In 2005, Markus Brunetti (b. 1965; Bavaria, Germany) began his remarkable and intensive journey of dedicating himself wholly to European cathedrals, churches, monasteries and synagogues. Through his singular and intensive process, the artist builds exhaustively detailed photographic records of these monuments.
Through years of trial and error, and with a level of devotion similar to the buildings’ original architects and builders, Brunetti creates work from his FACADES series using a completely unique visual language. Over a period of several years, the artist takes thousands of photographs of every structure he visits. He then edits, layers, and arranges each frame to create a composite image that eschews the illusory effects of spatial perspective and provides an otherwise impossible, perfect view of the building’s façade. In this way, Brunetti combines traditional photography with compositional techniques similar to painting, transcending the limits of classical architectural photography to create an image that matches the aesthetic ideals emulated in the paintings of Old Masters.
As part of the artist’s painstaking practice where absolutely nothing is left to chance, Brunetti and his partner, Betty Schöner (b. 1970; Dresden, Germany), refurbished an old firetruck and converted it into a mobile artist’s studio. Since 2005, the couple has lived on the road, travelling from country to country to document Europe’s most monumental sites of human achievement. Schöner, who hails from a family of photographers, works together with Brunetti, himself from a family of architects, to extensively research each building and select those that illustrate the rich formal diversity of holy sites across the continent.
Once a building is selected, Brunetti follows a strict set of rules throughout the entirety of the process. For each and every work, only a central view of the main façade is presented, and always under an overcast sky. Living in close proximity to each building and returning to that site repeatedly, Brunetti gains an intimate knowledge of and feeling for each structure, and gaining an appreciation for the immense amount of labor and ingenuity poured into each building’s original construction. With this as his motivation, Brunetti achieves what could be construed as the unachievable: documenting and preserving the entirety of monuments, seemingly frozen in a moment in time. Though his process often takes years, the artist’s finalized work surmounts and belies time, yielding an image that is cohesive, smooth, and unified.
Brunetti has had solo exhibitions at the Museum für Angewandte Kunst in Köln, Germany; the Museum of Fine Arts in Le Locle, Switzerland; and the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, Wisconsin, which also houses Brunetti’s work in their permanent collection. The artist’s work was featured in the PROPORTIO exhibition at Palazzo Fortuny, a collateral event to the 57th Venice Art Biennale in 2015. Brunetti is featured in numerous public and institutional collections around the globe, including the Jewish Museum in New York; Musée des Beaux-Arts in Switzerland; and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, among others. The artist will have his third exhibition with Yossi Milo gallery in early 2023, which will present new work from his FACADES series. Brunetti and Schöner live in a converted firetruck-turned-photo lab that serves as a mobile studio for their travels across the European continent.