Annie Leibovitz's portrait exhibition hits London this week! Continuing on from a project that began over 15 years ago, Annie Leibovitz’s new exhibition – ‘Women: New Portraits’, features some of the world’s most inspirational women including Misty Copeland, Serena Williams, and Oprah Winfrey.

The new portraits also feature women of outstanding achievement including artists, musicians, CEOs, writers, philanthropists, and politicians. However, the photographer revealed that there’s one woman she regretted not including: Angela Merkel.

Leibovitz names the German chancellor “the most important woman in the world today” and revealed in BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that she’s been trying very hard to get hold of Merkel. “I would probably shoot her working, which we have done with Hilary Clinton. I would love to do her just at work. I would be respectful of her not wanting to sit for a portrait.”

The exhibition has been commissioned by Art Basel’s lead partner, UBS, who’s CEO, Sergio Ermotti said: “It’s fantastic to be partnering with Annie on this project, which celebrates women, their strength and their role in bringing about positive change in the world.”

To give us a deeper insight into Annie’s role with UBS, we spoke to Johan Jervoe, UBS Group Chief Marketing Officer:

COZY MAG: In your own words, why Annie?

Johan Jervoe: Well I think it’s a combination of going on tour with Annie, to a subject that is on our agenda, which is women. It’s on our agenda internally and externally; our clients are becoming more diverse and we think the more diverse your teams are the better answers you find.

She’s able, with her power and her focus and just who she is, to bring that agenda together with us in a very different way than anybody else could.

CM: Why is art such a good channel for marketing to UBS’s clients?

JJ: First and foremost, we have been a collector [of art] for over 50 years and we have probably one of the biggest, if not the biggest corporate collection comprising of over 30,000 pieces.

We really think contemporary art enables you to understand culture and society in a very different way, often pushing the envelope. Many of our clients have contemporary art as an interest point and it’s a good exchange between us and them.

CM: What kind of pieces do you select for the UBS Art collection? What does it take to be a part of it?

JJ: We have a group of curators and an art board filled with internal and external experts who buy new pieces every year from the global footprint.

Majority of what we buy is new and upcoming, which is the sort of the game of contemporary art. 

CM: What kind of art do you admire?

JJ: I like contemporary art and it could be anything, from a painting to a picture. I love photography and I grew up in an age where there was quite a debate within the art world whether a photographer, was an artists or not. I think they are, and I think photography is such an interesting expression of how we see the world.

CM: Annie Leibovitz is an absolute legend and UBS speaks very highly of working with the most elite. Do you have any plans to feature up and coming artists, who aren’t as established?

JJ: Oh, we are! If you look at what we do with the Guggenheim Map initiative, we go around the world curating artists from South East Asia to the Middle East to Latin America with curators from those specific areas to capture that cultural understanding. A large proportion of the work we’re doing is with up and coming artists.

CM: What kind of effect do you hope this exhibition has on the public?

JJ: I think people will hopefully come here and enjoy an exhibition that acts as a story being told, that isn’t just pictures on a wall, it’s a story that she’s told for over 15 years in a very interesting juxtaposition between architecture, location, and the way she’s displayed her art; it almost looks like a storyboard and I hope everyone will enjoy that and initiate discussion.

I also think it’s interesting in today’s world, that you have that combination of old work/new work, digitally displayed/printed out – it’s sort of an installation that’s growing bigger as we travel more.

CM: We know, we’re already jealous of the other cities! Are there any upcoming exhibitions or artists that UBS are particularly excited about? Anything we should keep an eye out for?

JJ: Keep an eye out for the Guggenheim Map project and Art Basel Hong Kong! As well as Art Basel in Basel and Art Basel Miami – Each of those three locations have had such a rich influence on how the exhibition comes together.

Whilst what we got to see was quite a small collection, this exhibition is a must for any Leibovitz fan or anyone in need of inspiration! 'Women: New Portraits' is now open and is free to the public at the Wapping Hydraulic Power station in London until February 7th 2016.

For more information click here.

Image credits:

Annie Leibovitz: Annie Leibovitz © Peter Macdiarmid

Misty Copeland: Misty Copeland, New York City, 2015 © Annie Leibovitz from WOMEN: New Portraits

Words by Taylor-Dior Rumble (@XO_TDR)