As soon as you walk through the door of the exhibit “Annie Leibovitz. The Early Years, 1970 – 1983: Archive Project No. 1,” you may feel overwhelmed with the vastness of the 4,000 photos spread throughout 24 walls of the seven rooms of the loft-like gallery space but that is exactly how Leibovitz intended it to be, according to the New York Times.
“The idea was to be overwhelmed,” Leibovitz told the New York Times. “Not to sit there and look at each photograph, but to get this idea that it doesn’t stop. It goes on.”
Leibovitz, renowned portrait photographer, showcases her photos at Hauser & Wirth from the first 14 years of her career. The photography exhibit, located in the arts district of downtown Los Angeles, opened on Feb. 14.
At the entrance of the space is a wall size timeline with an overview of the cultural and political events from 1970 to 1983 including numerous elections, Nixon’s impeachment, and the date Leibovitz started photographing for Rolling Stone magazine.
These events are documented and memorialized throughout the exhibit with Leibovitz’s mostly black and white photos. The photos are copies that were produced on an Epson printer and pinned to the walls, according to the New York Times.
Leibovitz photographed many famous musicians, politicians, and celebrities for Rolling Stone magazine chronicling the 1970s and 1980s and later for Vanity Fair and Vogue.
“There is rarely somebody who has captured America like her in terms of her perception of the 20th century,” said Marc Payot, the gallery’s partner and vice president told the New York Times. “This show is really her beginning as a photographer and developing her language.”
On Feb. 13, celebrities gathered at Hauser & Wirth to honor Leibovitz including Paul McCartney, who is shown in the exhibit, Demi Moore who Leibovitz photographed pregnant for the cover of Vanity Fair, chef Wolfgang Puck, Mayor Eric Garcetti and his father, former Mayor Gil Garcetti.
Patti Smith, who is also featured in the exhibit, performed while the guests had dinner and celebrated Leibovitz.
Many of the photos have a place in American history. When traveling with the Rolling Stones in 1975 to document their tour, she was able to capture the band’s world with her photographs. One of her photos is of John Lennon lying with Yoko Ono which was taken only five hours before he was killed in 1980, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Another one of her photographs captures the resignation of Richard Nixon on Aug. 9, 1974 as his presidential helicopter takes off from the White House lawn for the last time.
As one moves towards the final rooms, the photos progress past the candid photos to the studio shots of celebrities such as Bruce Springsteen and Steve Martin.
It is fitting that Leibovitz, who captured so much of Los Angeles’ history with her photos, is displaying them in Los Angeles.
The exhibit is open at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles until April 14.