In Paris, Annie Leibovitz Is Inducted Into the Prestigious Académie des Beaux-Arts

Edouard Brane

With a ceremony in Paris’s Dome of the Palais de l’Institut de France worthy of the grand achievement, this afternoon, Annie Leibovitz was inducted into the prestigious Académie des Beaux-Arts—a storied and discerning organization created in 1816 and dedicated to the arts.

She joins as a foreign associate member of the Academy of Fine Arts, and for the occasion, Leibovitz wore a custom suit by Nicolas Ghesquière, Louis Vuitton’s artistic director of the women’s collections. For her look, Ghesquière referenced men’s courtly attire of the ancien régime with a black frock coat with gold embroidery. Following her induction, Leibovitz would accessorize the suit with the Académie’s ceremonial sword, a symbol of membership. Per the Académie, “Far from being a harbinger of future battles, it is a sign of existence, and therefore of respect.”

There to present Leibovitz with the award was Anna Wintour, who opened her remarks by sharing the esteem she has for the Académie, and referencing Leibovitz’s new accolade. “For a British or American person, the only thing more daunting than a French fashion show is a French academy—and by a similar principle, the only thing more intimidating than Annie Leibovitz is Annie Leibovitz brandishing a sword.”

Wintour went on to sing the praises of her longtime friend and collaborator. “Who has escaped her lens? Not our president, or yours. Not the late Queen of England or the present King of Spain. Musicians, movie stars, fashion designers, writers, artists, athletes, politicians of all stripes.”

“It is obviously one of the great honors of my life…and what makes this especially meaningful is that photography is represented in the Académie alongside paintings, sculpture, printmaking, cinema, dance, music, and architecture,” Leibovitz told the room, explaining that she takes the seat in the Académie formerly held by the architect I.M. Pei.

The event featured a performance from Patti Smith, who sang “Peaceable Kingdom,” and a display of some of Leibovitz’s greatest imagery, which reminded all in attendance of the force of her artistry.

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