What does our photo editor think of The Wex's new exhibit?
Photo by: Will Shilling
What does our photo editor think of The Wex's new exhibit? Here, his thoughts after a preview.
The faces that stare back through the frames are not just recognizable as a who's who of popular culture during the past 40 years: They capture moments that have become iconic representations of those people. When I think of John Lennon, I think of him curled up naked beside Yoko Ono. When I picture Whoopi Goldberg, I see her face emerging from a bathtub full of milk. Annie Leibovitz's images have become as big a part of pop culture as the subjects themselves.
The size and scope of her exclusive Master Set exhibit at Ohio State's Wexner Center for the Arts is bewildering for a body of work by one artist. Individually, the images are powerful. They can be humorous or haunting- sometimes both (take, for one, a shirtless Dennis Hopper sitting beside Christopher Walkenat Chateau Marmont). Collectively, they represent a body of work equaled by few other living artists.
Leibovitz's stories behind the photographs are interesting as well.
But for me, the fascinating part of the retrospective is the story of her own life hung on those stark walls. Her attachment and affection for the people in the photographs she has chosen for the Master Set come through as clearly as the subjects' personalities. The human beings in these pictures have left their marks on her. Whether it was picking up certain habits while on tour with The Rolling Stones in 1971, or learning that asking nicely can earn you a sitting with Queen Elizabeth II, the people and experiences associated with them have had a profound effect on her as a person as well as a photographer.
Leibovitz began assembling the images in the Master Set as a gift to her three young children, leaving them a legacy of not only the work she produced but also the life she lived while producing it. When viewed through that lens, this exhibit takes on a whole new meaning-and lends a perspective beyond assembling a greatesthits collection. –Will Shilling