Beauty and the Beast: The Photography of Martin Schoeller

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Questioning the notion of beauty, German photographer Martin Schoeller takes pictures of female bodybuilders, whose feminine heads seem grafted to muscular bodies, and close-up portraits of celebrities that show every pore and wrinkle on their famous faces. Following in the tradition of August Sander, Bernd and Hilla Becher, and Thomas Ruff, Schoeller prefers a stark reality to the realm of fiction. The bulging muscles and sculptural forms of his female bodybuilders are surreal, while the sagging chins and flawed skin of Clint Eastwood, Chris Rock, Paris Hilton, Kobe Bryant, Sarah Palin, Dennis Hopper, and other boldface names show that even the stars are less than perfect.

Martin Schoeller’s exhibition Females Bodybuilders is on view at New York’s Hasted Hunt Kraeutler, where some of his images from the continuing Close Up series can also be seen, through August 27.

Martin Schoeller, Christine Roth, Female Bodybuilders, 2004. Digital C-Print 61 1/2 x 50 in. Courtesy Hasted Hunt Kraeutler, New York

Martin Schoeller, Kobe Bryant, Close Up, 2009. Digital C-Print 61 1/2 x 50 in. Courtesy Hasted Hunt Kraeutler, New York

Martin Schoeller, Betty Pariso, Female Bodybuilders, 2003. Digital C-Print 61 1/2 x 50 in. Courtesy Hasted Hunt Kraeutler, New York

Martin Schoeller, Bill Murray, Close Up, 2008. Digital C-Print 61 1/2 x 50 in. Courtesy Hasted Hunt Kraeutler, New York

Martin Schoeller, Carmella Cureton, Female Bodybuilders, 2007. Digital C-Print 61 1/2 x 50 in. Courtesy Hasted Hunt Kraeutler, New York

Martin Schoeller, Paris Hilton, Close Up, 2008. Digital C-Print 61 1/2 x 50 in. Courtesy Hasted Hunt Kraeutler, New York

Martin Schoeller, Kim Harris, Female Bodybuilders, 2003. Digital C-Print 61 1/2 x 50 in. Courtesy Hasted Hunt Kraeutler, New York

Martin Schoeller, Zach Galifianakis, Close Up, 2009. Digital C-Print 61 1/2 x 50 in. Courtesy Hasted Hunt Kraeutler, New York

Martin Schoeller, Nadia Nardi, Female Bodybuilders, 2007. Digital C-Print 61 1/2 x 50 in. Courtesy Hasted Hunt Kraeutler, New York

Martin Schoeller, Chris Rock, Close Up, 2008. Digital C-Print 61 1/2 x 50 in. Courtesy Hasted Hunt Kraeutler, New York

Martin Schoeller, Bonny Priest, Female Bodybuilders, 2004. Digital C-Print 61 1/2 x 50 in. Courtesy Hasted Hunt Kraeutler, New York

Martin Schoeller, Clint Eastwood, Close Up, 2008. Digital C-Print 61 1/2 x 50 in. Courtesy Hasted Hunt Kraeutler, New York

Martin Schoeller, Michelle Davis, Female Bodybuilders, 2004. Digital C-Print 61 1/2 x 50 in. Courtesy Hasted Hunt Kraeutler, New York

Martin Schoeller, Sarah Palin, Close Up, 2008. Digital C-Print 61 1/2 x 50 in. Courtesy Hasted Hunt Kraeutler, New York

Martin Schoeller, Marja Lehtonen, Female Bodybuilders, 2007. Digital C-Print 61 1/2 x 50 in. Courtesy Hasted Hunt Kraeutler, New York

Martin Schoeller, Dennis Hopper, Close Up, 2008. Digital C-Print 61 1/2 x 50 in. Courtesy Hasted Hunt Kraeutler, New York