Chinese visual artist Liu Bolin photographed in Manhattan by Annie Leibovitz
Credit: Courtesy of Annie Leibovitz/Moncler

Liu Bolin has made a name for himself by disappearing. It’s deliciously ironic then that for his latest vanishing act he should star in a campaign for Moncler that’s truly a sight to behold, one lensed by legendary image maker Annie Leibovitz.

The result is a far (and welcome) departure from Leibovitz’s past efforts for the French-Italian label. Far from the Lucky Blue Smith in Iceland après-ski stylings of previous campaigns, Liu and Leibovitz’s collaboration verges on the surreal and borrows from the Chinese artist’s singular oeuvre: unassuming photographs in which the artist blends into some of the world’s most iconic backgrounds, usually with the intent of voicing protest, or airing the artist’s political and social commentary.

In past works, Liu’s acts of disappearance have underscored the individual’s sense of invisibility in an increasingly indifferent society. In Leibovitz’s campaign, Liu, wearing a Doudoune Legère snowsuit, disappears against New York backdrops to “communicate the versatility of Moncler and it’s [sic] product, as well as adventure, nature, and the French-Italian brand’s iconic and metropolitan spirit,” according to a statement released by the brand.

The artist has previously disappeared in other New York locations, including at the 5Pointz Aerosol Arts Center, a graffiti hotspot in Queens, against the bronze Wall Street bull and at Ground Zero.

Liu Bolin photographed by Annie Leibovitz in Central Park, Manhattan
Credit: Courtesy of the artist and Moncler

Liu, now 61, has also vanished in locations like Forbidden City in Beijing, the Great Wall, Temple of Heaven and before a portrait of Mao. His first disappearance took place in 2006, when Suo Jia Cun, a suburban Bejing artists’ village where he once worked as a sculptor’s assistant, was forcibly demolished by the Chinese government. As an act of protest, he too disappeared into its ruins and in doing so created his first work, Hiding in the City.

A series of works by the same name has since earned Liu international acclaim, and his efforts have since been extended to creating artwork for acts like Bon Jovi and labels including Valentino.

Tile and cover image: Courtesy of Annie Leibovitz/Moncler