LONDON—The 43rd edition of the Pirelli calendar, created by celebrated American photographer and portraitist Annie Leibovitz, was released last week, presented to the press, guests and collectors at an event in London.
The 2016 calendar—unveiled at the Roundhouse, a former industrial building that was one of the “temples of rock” in the British capital in the 1960s—features 13 women “of outstanding professional, social, cultural, sporting and artistic accomplishment,” according to Pirelli S.p.A.
Included in the calendar are: 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 an influential figure 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; critic and writer Fran Lebowitz; Mellody Hobson, the president of Ariel Investments 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; rock singer Patti Smith; and actress and stand-up comedian Amy Schumer.
Pirelli said Leibovitz shot the work in July in her New York studio. She is the creator of the 2000 Pirelli calendar, which featured choreographer Mark Morris's dancers—those pictures being the first set of nudes of Leibovitz career.
The women in the current calendar are of different ages and backgrounds and have different careers paths, Pirelli said. As was the case with the first few calendars of the 1960s and, more recently, in Peter Lindbergh's 2002 Pirelli calendar, or Patrick Demarchelier's 2008 and Steve McCurry's 2013 calendars, there are no nudes, according to the tire maker.
In describing her 2016 effort,Leibovitz said “we did something completely different, but it is still simple. It is a classic set of black-and-white portraits made in the studio.
“When Pirelli approached me, they said they wanted to make a departure from the past. They suggested the idea of photographing distinguished women. 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.”
Leibovitz added she is “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.”
Pirelli has set up a new website for the 2016 calendar that features videos, photographs and interviews.
Leibovitz began her career as a photojournalist for Rolling Stone magazine in 1970, while she was a student at the San Francisco Art Institute. Her pictures have appeared regularly on magazine covers ever since. Her first major assignment was for a cover story on John Lennon, and she became Rolling Stone's chief photographer in 1973.
By the time she left the magazine 10 years later, she had shot 142 covers and published photo essays on scores of stories, including her accounts of the resignation of Richard Nixon and of the 1975 Rolling Stones tour. She has worked for a number of other publications including Vanity Fair.
In 2009, she received the International Center of Photography's Lifetime Achievement Award, ASME's first Creative Excellence Award and the Centenary Medal of the Royal Photographic Society in London. In 2012, she was the recipient of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art Award to Distinguished Women in the Arts and the Wexner Prize.
In 2013 she received the Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities and was the inaugural recipient of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Contemporary Vision Award in 2015.
Leibovitz, who lives in New York with her three children, has been designated a Living Legend by the Library of Congress.
See a video here.