A 2011 self-portrait by Annie Leibovitz and the Wexner Prize sculpture by Jim Dine.
There’s no mistaking the golden corpse that is Oscar or the atom-thrusting, lightning-winged Emmy gal, but we’ll gladly trade you both for a Jim Dine hammer, gnarled and gleaming. Such is the distinctive statuette that accompanies the Wexner Prize, awarded every so often (beginning in 1992) by the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio to “living artists working in any medium or discipline whose achievements reflect bold originality, innovation, and creative excellence.” The fourteenth recipient is photographer Annie Leibovitz, whose work is the subject of a major exhibition opening September 22 at the Center, which has already readied a Twitter hashtag for the occasion: #wexannie. Leibovitz joins an esteemed group of past winners that includes Merce Cunningham and John Cage, Gerhard Richter, Issey Miyake, and Spike Lee. Aside from that smashing hammer—tools for both building and breaking apart, Dine, an Ohio native, saw them as symbols for the creative force that drives artists—she’ll receive a check for $50,000 (no snide comments, please).
“Working with Annie over the last fifteen months to produce her exhibition at the Wex, her ‘candidacy’ quite naturally emerged with all the clarity and authority of one of her photographs,” said Wexner Center director Sherri Geldin in a statement issued this afternoon. “The more than 200 Leibovitz photographs on view at the Wexner Center this fall attest to her stunning achievement across more than 40 years of relentless photographic pursuit. That these works continue to so profoundly move us decades after they were shot is but one measure of her mastery.” Leibovitz will be presented with the prize at a ceremony on November 10 at the Center. She’ll also discuss her work in a public talk that weekend.