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Martin Schoeller Big Heads

Martin Schoeller
Big Heads
19 May – 2 Sept. 2018


Martin Schoeller is one of the preeminent portrait photographers of our time. This exhibition of his work at the Nederlands Fotomuseum is the first ever held in the Netherlands. Schoeller owes his international acclaim to his iconic Close Up series, on which he has worked ceaselessly for over twenty years. The series contains visuals of both famous and lesser-known subjects, all taken in extreme close-up. Using the same lens, lighting and angle, the result is a series of portraits unbound by their contexts. Schoeller’s subjects include international icons such as George Clooney, Lady Gaga, Angelina Jolie, Angela Merkel, Jack Nicholson, Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg.

Martin Schoeller | Big Heads is scheduled to run from 19 May to 2 September at the Nederlands Fotomuseum. At the opening on 18 May, two new ‘big head’ portraits - this time including Dutch celebrities - will be unveiled in the presence of the photographer. In addition to the photographs from the Close Up series, the exhibition will include visuals from three of Schoeller’s other portrait series.


From left to right: Barack Obama, 2004; Donatella Versace, 2010; Jack Nicholson, 2002. © Martin Schoeller




New York-based photographer Martin Schoeller is best-known for his ‘big head’ portraits: full-frontal, hyper-detailed close-ups of faces printed in large format. In this much-lauded Close Up series, Schoeller well-known politicians, actors, musicians and sports personalities in exactly the same way as ordinary individuals. The result is a democratization of portrait photography, with no distinction being drawn according the subjects’ social status.


A photographic close-up is perhaps the purest form of portraiture, creating a confrontation between the viewer and the subject that daily interaction makes impossible, or at least, impolite.” says Schoeller.


In addition to a wide selection of these ‘big head’ portraits, the exhibition will include work from Schoeller’s Identical series. Here Schoeller documents monozygotic (‘identical’) twins side by side, encouraging the viewer to seek out the miniscule differences between them. For his Female Bodybuilders series, he photographs the incredible bodies of the athletes at the height of their careers. Eschewing digital manipulation, Schoeller shows their spectacular physique exactly as it is. The exhibition will include larger-than-life prints of a number of works in this series.


Martin Schoeller (b. 1968, Munich) began his photographic career in Berlin. In 1993 he moved to New York, where for several years he assisted portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz. It was during this period that he developed his ‘Close Up’ technique. Over the last 20 years, he has worked on commissions from The New Yorker and his photographs have appeared in other leading publications like Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Esquire, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Some of the world’s most prominent collectors of contemporary photography and modern art have acquired fine art prints of his work. Schoeller exhibits internationally, has published various monographs and has received numerous awards and distinctions.