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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Princess of Asturias Awards


Annie Leibovitz, Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities

US photographer Annie Leibovitz was bestowed with the 2013 Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities, as made public on 23rd May in Oviedo by the jury responsible for conferring said Award.

Annie Leibovitz, 2013 Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities. ©FPA

The Jury for the Award –convened by the Prince of Asturias Foundation– was chaired by Víctor García de la Concha and was composed of José Antonio Álvarez Gundín, Juan Barja, Adela Cortina Orts, José Manuel Diego Carcedo, Albert Espinosa i Puig, Javier Garciadiego Dantán, Javier González Ferrari, Miguel Ángel Liso Tejada, Beningo Pendás García, José Antonio Vera Gil, Enrique de Ybarra e Ybarra and Ramón López Vilas (acting as secretary).

Born in Waterbury (Connecticut, USA) on 2nd October 1949, Anna-Lou “Annie” Leibovitz studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute at the same time as attending evening classes in photography. Before finishing her studies, she started working for Rolling Stone in 1970, where she was to become head of photography three years later. In 1983, when her photographs had already illustrated 142 covers, she left this magazine to join in the editorial launch of the new Vanity Fair, where she is currently contributing editor. She has also worked for Vogue since 1998, where she had previously published her photos.

Annie Leibovitz has become one of the most highly respected photographers in cultural and political spheres in the United States. Writers, rock, dance and sport stars, prominent politicians and virtually all the major Hollywood stars have posed for her. Her work is characterized by painstaking, sophisticated staging and by a studied use of lighting that lends her photos a characteristic atmosphere. In 1975, she accompanied The Rolling Stones as official photographer during their concert tour. Her images were acclaimed by critics for capturing the essence of the kind of music and atmosphere surrounding her. Some of Leibovitz’s most recognized photos include: the last photo of Richard Nixon as president of the United States, getting into the helicopter as he left the White House; John Lennon naked in a foetal position hugging Yoko Ono, taken only a few hours before the former Beatle was murdered; Whoopi Goldberg in a bathtub full of milk; and the session she shot with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on the occasion of her official visit to the United States in 2007. Exhibitions of Leibovitz’s photographs have been held in museums and galleries around the world, including the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, becoming the first woman and only the second living photographer to exhibit there, the International Center of Photography in New York, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Hermitage in St Petersburg and the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. Her work has been published in several books: Annie Leibovitz: Photographs (1983); Annie Leibovitz: Photographs 1970-1990 (1991); Olympic Portraits (1996), showing her work as the official photographer of the US Olympic team for the Games in Atlanta; Women (1999), in collaboration with Susan Sontag –2003 Prince of Asturias Award for Literature –; American Music (2003); A Photographer’s Life, 1990-2005 (2006); Annie Leibovitz at Work (2008); and Pilgrimage (2011).

Commander of the French Order of Arts and Letters, Leibovitz was designated a “Living Legend” by the US Library of Congress in 2000 and has been distinguished with the Barnard College Medal of Distinction, the Infinity Award in Applied Photography from the International Center of Photography (USA, 2009) and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art Award to Distinguished Women in the Arts (2012), among other distinctions.

This year a total of 18 candidatures from Argentina, Bosnia, France, Germany, Israel, Mexico, Poland, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States and Spain ran for the Award.

According to the Statutes of the Foundation, the Prince of Asturias Awards aim “to reward scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanitarian work carried out at an international level by individuals, institutions or groups of individuals or institutions”. As part of this spirit, the Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities shall be conferred on those “whose creative and investigative work in any type of humanistic activity or in any activity related to social communication, within the framework of the sciences and disciplines that both fields of activity encompass, represents an outstanding contribution to universal culture”.

This is the third of eight Prince of Asturias Awards to be bestowed this year for the thirty-third time. The Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts went to Austrian filmmaker and playwright Michael Haneke and the Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences was given to Dutch sociologist Saskia Sassen. The rest of awards will be announced in the coming weeks in the following order: Technical and Scientific Research, Literature and International Cooperation and Sports, with the Concord award being announced in September.

Each Prince of Asturias Award, which date back to 1981, comprises a diploma, a Joan Miró sculpture representing and symbolising the Awards, an insignia bearing the Foundation's coat of arms, and a cash prize of 50,000 Euros. The awards will be presented in the autumn in Oviedo at a grand ceremony chaired by H.R.H. the Prince of Asturias.

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