For its legendary, annual calendar, Pirelli, the Italian tire company, has always “called upon the photographer of the moment to portray ‘the beauty of the world’ through images.” And over the last 50 some years, their definition of “beauty” has been fairly one-dimensional… models and supermodels posed provocatively, and shot nude, pin-up style. But the 12 months of the 2016 calendar look refreshingly different and present an altogether empowered new year celebrating 13 distinguished women, all shot by one of the most celebrated American photographers and portraitists, Annie Leibovitz.
Unveiled today at a press conference in London, the 2016 Pirelli Calendar, which is presented more like a book, features stunning black and white portraits of “13 women of outstanding professional, social, cultural, sporting and artistic accomplishment,” accompanied by the stories of their respective work, influence, and achievements. The women are of different ages, backgrounds and professional fields and… “there are are no nudes“… technically speaking (Amy Schumer “didn’t get the memo”).
“When Pirelli approached me, they said they wanted to make a departure from the past. They suggested the idea of photographing distinguished women,” Leibovitz shared. “After we agreed on that, the goal was to be very straightforward. I wanted the pictures to show the women exactly as they are, with no pretense.”
The famed photographer shot each of the 13 women last July in her New York studio. They include: actress Yao Chen, the first Chinese UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador; Russian top model Natalia Vodianova, founder of the charity Naked Heart Russia; producer Kathleen Kennedy, the Chairperson of Lucasfilm and one of the most influential figures in Hollywood; art collector and patroness Agnes Gund (with her granddaughter Sadie Rain Hope-Gund), President Emerita of the Museum of Modern Art in New York; tennis player Serena Williams, number one in the world; opinion leader, critic and writer Fran Lebowitz; the President of Ariel Investments, Mellody Hobson, who supports charity projects in Chicago; film director Ava DuVernay, whose films include Selma, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture in 2015; blogger Tavi Gevinson, founder of Style Rookie and online magazine Rookie; Iranian visual artist Shirin Neshat; artist, musician and performer Yoko Ono; singer Patti Smith, one of the top rock stars of all time; and the actress and stand-up comedian Amy Schumer.
It’s interesting to note that Annie Leibovitz is also “the creator of the 2000 Pirelli Calendar, which featured choreographer Mark Morris’s dancers. The 2000 pictures were the first set of nudes of her career.”
“I’m a great admirer of comediennes. The Amy Schumer portrait added some fun. It’s as if she didn’t get the memo saying that she could keep her clothes on.” – Annie Leibovitz