Angela Merkel, Barack Obama or Jack Nicholson – Martin Schoeller has had them all. The man from Munich is one of the most famous portrait photographers in the world. A master of extreme close-up.
Stuttgart – The eyes are tired. People have long since grown tired of all the self-portraits, the selfies that flood social media every day. Ever since these cell phone cameras have existed, a snapshot face seems like any other. Everyone wants to present their face in the best light, emphasize their strengths and hide their weaknesses. In the end, there is affected whimpering into the lens or a duck’s nose is pulled. Pure vanity. These faces don’t tell anything.
Every freckle comes into its own
What a difference to the communicative portraits by Martin Schoeller. As a viewer, you look as if spellbound at the intensely shining pair of eyes of a serious-looking girl who is still following you hours later. Nothing is hidden, the light is brutal, every skin pore, every sun rung comes into its own. In Schoeller’s studio you usually sit on a hard swivel stool for a long time.
70 centimeters lie between the lens and the tip of the nose, the light comes from bright fluorescent tubes. Anyone who sits in front of the camera of the 52-year-old from Munich must expect surprises. These faces reveal more about their owners than they might like.
Close-ups of stars and sex workers
In an interview he once spoke of an “honest second” in the face of the person portrayed, which he would like to make visible. In spite of this, or precisely because of this, Martin Schoeller became one of America’s best-known and most sought-after photographers, portraying stars like Jack Nicholson and politicians like Barack Obama for his extreme close-ups. These and other works, such as Schoeller’s series on female bodybuilders and sex workers, will be shown in a retrospective at the NRW-Forum in Düsseldorf until September 13th.
Info about the book
Martin Schoeller: Works 1999–2019. Steidl-Verlag, Göttingen. 136 pages, 78 illustrations, texts in English. 28 euros. www.steidl.de