Close presents 120 portraits of the world’s most famous and influential people across the arts and entertainment industries, politics, business and sport—from Julia Roberts and Adele, to Frank Gehry and Marina Abramović, Barack Obama, Julian Assange and Roger Federer. Between 2005 and 2018 Schoeller photographed his subjects, in his words “to create a level platform, where a viewer’s existing notions of celebrity, values, and honesty are challenged.” Schoeller realized this goal by subjecting his sitters to equal technical treatment: each portrait is a close-up of a face with the same camera angle and lighting. The expressions are consistently neutral, serious yet relaxed, in an attempt to tease out his subjects’ differences and capture moments “that felt intimate, unposed.” Schoeller’s inspiration for Close was the water tower series of Bernd and Hilla Becher, his ambition to adapt their systematic approach to portraiture. Amidst Schoeller’s famous subjects are also some unknown and unfamiliar ones, a means to comprehensively make his project an “informal anthropological study of the faces of our time.
Born in 1968, Martin Schoeller is an award-winning portrait photographer renowned for his extreme close-up portraits. Schoeller worked as an assistant to Annie Leibovitz from 1993 to 1996, and since 1998 his work has appeared in Rolling Stone, National Geographic, Time, GQ, Esquire, Entertainment Weekly and the New York Times Magazine, among other publications. He joined Richard Avedon as a contributing portrait photographer at the New Yorker in 1999, where he continues to work. Schoeller exhibits internationally and his photography is held in collections including the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.