Sunday, March 09, 2008

Beyond Wonderful

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I zoomed up to the Legion of Honor early this morning so I could do a ten minute run-through of the Annie Leibovitz show. God! The parking lot was full! I turned down the narrow road on the left and had to sit and wait on cars waiting on other cars to pull out. Disgusted, I almost drove straight back home, only I couldn't back up and turn around because now there was a line of cars behind me.

Then! When I finally parked and hiked back up the hill to the museum (why hadn't I just walked to begin with?) there was a line to get in the door. I was in the members only line, and had to stand and wait. Absurd.

When I got downstairs where the exhibit was, there were mobs of people. I was still asking myself, "Should I stay or should I go?"

I stayed. It was the best show I've ever seen in a museum. A ten minute run-through was not an option. At first I was surprised that I loved the exhibit so much, because the photo used for the announcement–the one of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rob Besserer–makes me break out in giggles.

The exhibition ... bears witness to something the artist realized as she was preparing the material. "I don't have two lives," she said. "This is one life, and the personal pictures and the assignment work are all part of it." I liked that; it was part of an intro paragraph printed on the wall. And it was true. The show seemed like an open journal of an incredibly interesting and likable person.

The photos ranged from Johnny Depp and Kate Moss in bed at the Royalton Hotel to Eudora Welty at her home in Mississippi to one called Sarajevo, Fallen Bicycle of Teenage Boy Just Killed by a Sniper, 1994. By this photo there's a note by Annie that says: The picture of the bicycle and the smeared blood was taken just after the boy on the bike had been hit by mortar that came down in front of our car. I was on my way to a housing project to photograph Miss Sarajevo. We put him in the car and sent him to the hospital, but he died on the way.

There are lots of family shots; and she documents her friend Susan Sontag's illness and death.

There are HUGE 9' x 12' (?) landscapes. There are tiny photos of Susan's seashell collection.

There are two solid walls of little prints of things she had considered showing but didn't; I couldn't get close enough to see any of them. I'll have to go back at 9:30 am–I'll try a Tuesday next time.

I loved the fact that Annie had her first child when she was 51, and twins three and a half years later.