Annie Leibovitz: the Pirelli calendar out of the ruts

The Pirelli calendar is the Cadillac of calendars, in a grand luxurious pin-up format, photographed each year by a renowned guest photographer. Each year, there is a competition of creativity to produce an improved collection of scantily dressed models.

But when Annie Leibovitz was invited for the production in 2016, it was expected to see a change in the norms and the rules, including the choice of models, the implementation stage, the message and the emotions. Suddenly, the force of the portrait was projected to the front-plan. Goodbye conventional standards.

During our meeting, we will discuss the Pirelli 2016 collection, analyze the images, see and discuss a ‘behind the scenes’ clip of the photo session. It will among other things help understand the nature of the relationship between the subject and the photographer.

Annie Leibovitz, photographeAnnie Leibovitz was born on October 2nd, 1949, in Waterbury, Connecticut. While studying painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, she took evening courses in Photography. In 1970, at the age of 21 years old, she began to work for the Rolling Stone magazine, and became the chief photographer in 1973. In a span of 10 years, she produced a total of 142 cover pages, which allowed her to develop her trademark by the use of bright colors and vibrant images.

In 1983, she joined the Vanity Fair team. From 1998, she started to obtain requests for the production of fashion and advertising projects.

She has collaborated with many art organizations, including the American Ballet Theater, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Mark Morris Dance Group

A selection of Annie Leibovitz’s striking photography

Pirelli Calendar 2016

Produced since 1964, the Pirelli calendar is an annual publication of high caliber that is recognized for the participation of renowned photographers who often showcase models inspired by a “first class” version of Playboy. The calendar is produced by the Italian tire manufacturer Pirelli, and is given as a gift to a selected group of approximately 20,000 of the rich and famous.

When they invited photographer Annie Leibovitz for the 2016’s edition, she decided to lead the publication in a whole new direction, far from the sensuality, scenes of boudoir and eroticism. Leibovitz decided to put aside the use of famous models and chose to present portraits of remarkable professional women, of women who have made their mark in the field of art, entertainment, business or philanthropy. In the past, the women were chosen for their appearance, with Leibovitz, they were chosen for their social contributions and their achievements.

A significant change for the Pirelli calendar, all women were dressed, all except two. In the press release, Leibovitz explained that these two portraits were conceptual models: the photo of Williams is “not a nude but a body study”, while Schumer drinking a latte in underwear was intended to be humoristic. “The idea was that she was the only one who had not got the memo about wearing clothes”.

Agnes Gund, 77 years old, emeritus president of the Museum of Modern Art, accompanied by her little daughter Sadie Rain Hope-Gund

Mellody Hobson, 46 years old, the president of a $10 billion investment fund of a company in Chicago.

Amy Schumer, actress/comedian

Serena Williams, tennis player

Ava Duvernay, cinematographic director

Fran Lebowitz, author and lecturer interested in social issues

Kathleen Kennedy, cinematographic director (E.T., Jurassic Park), Chairperson of Lucasfilm

Natalia Vodianova, famous model

Patti Smith, popular singer, poet and visual artist

Shirin Neshat, Iranian artist living in New York, filmmaker, photographer

Tavi Gevinson, writer, actress and magazine publisher

Yao Chen,  Chinese actress

Yoko Ono, multimedia artist, writer, performing arts, singer


Behind the scenes shooting, Annie Leibovitz, Pirelli 2016


YouTube Annie Leibovitz, Pirelli 2016  (version courte)

YouTube Annie Leibovitz, Pirelli 2016 (version longue)



Reference, Annie Leibovitz


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