Annie Leibovitz’s New Portraits Exhibition Showcases The World’s Most Notable Women

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You may remember the news back in October that legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz took all the photos for the 2016 iconic Pirelli Calendar, a cultural beauty symbol normally known for featuring nude supermodels which have entirely nothing to do with Italian-brand car tires (yep, we’re still trying to figure that one out…).

For the third year in a row, catching on to the obvious and growing female empowerment movement in mainstream media and culture, the calendar decided to forego it’s usual imagery and instead featured a year’s worth of successful women from a range of industries who are NOT supermodels, and who appear with their clothes on…well most of them.

Yoko Ono, Amy Schumer, Ava DuVernay and Serena Williams are among the crop of women who give the female populations something to aspire to, other than simply the way they look – which is an important message to send even within the fashion and beauty world.

Well it turns out that job wasn’t just a one-off for Annie. More of her incredible portraits featuring incredible women are part of a new photography exhibition series called Women: New Portraits, sponsored by UBS Investment Investment Bank, which kicked off at the Wapping Hydraulic Power Station venue in London and will make it’s way around the world to 10 cities in total.

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And yes, the “New” part of the title does insinuate there was an “old” or first installment of the series. In 1999 she released a series simply titled “Women” with then-partner Susan Sontag, a feminist writer, political activist and filmmaker who died in 2004.

The new portraits exhibit doesn’t override the original project, in fact images from both are displayed in the one, in an attempt to point out just how far the world has progressed for women in 17 years. The images promote a sense of equality, but also the varying lives of women around the world.

“All the frame sizes are equal. The idea behind ‘Women’ is to have, for example, Hillary Clinton next to a homeless woman. There was no rhyme or reason, it was supposed to be more arbitrary,” said Annie.

In an interview with Cool Hunting she says even she was surprised about the leaps made for women, especially in areas of fashion and beauty, such as Lupita Nyong’o becoming the face of Lancome, and another famous woman she shot for the cover of Vanity Fair magazine.

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“I didn’t expect the media to immediately embrace Caitlyn Jenner. I was so moved by that, I think it’s definitely a step forward,” she said.

Aside from Caitlyn Jenner and Lupita Nyong’o, the series also features Annie’s now-famous portraits of people like Michelle Obama, Misty Copeland, Cate Blanchett, Angelina Jolie, Jane Goodall, Amy Schumer, Hillary Clinton, Wendy Deng Murdoch, Aung San Suu Kyi, and feminist author and activist Gloria Steinem who sees a lot of symbolic power in an exhibition like this.

“Taking these photographs to 10 cities is going to make such a difference. It’s important to show women as full of humanity, and it’s especially important because at this moment in time, there’s a lot of violence towards women in the world,” said Gloria.

The most outspoken feminist icon to come out of the 3rd wave era also helped Annie compile the photos to give it depth and cohesion.

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“Annie captures women in all our human variety and idiosyncrasy, simplicity and artifice, bravery and fear . . . in other words, in all our humanity. No word as limited as gender can account for all the truths in this exhibit,” she said.

Her portraits are displayed in a way to reminders viewers of how different the lives of women in the world are today. And although there are such a variety of women captures, Annie has one woman in her sights that she has yet to photograph – German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was recently named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2015.

“Probably the most important woman in the world today. We’re not done yet. It’s a project which will probably never be done!”

There is no word on whether Women: New Portraits will be made into a book like the first installment, but it is awesome to see Annie’s incredible work being showcased globally. To see when the exhibition is coming to a city near you, click here.

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