After two decades of experience working with digital imaging, Markus Brunetti along with his partner Betty Schoener built a mobile studio and set off across Europe capturing the façades of historic cathedrals, churches, and cloisters in minute detail. What started out as a one-year project in 2005 has become an open-ended journey, yielding monumental photographs of exquisite detail.
In the tradition of Bernd and Hilla Becher’s serial documentation of German industrialization, Brunetti records the façade of each structure in a precise and regulated manner. The buildings, which span the architectural styles from Romanesque to Baroque, are rendered in hyper-real detail, revealing visual information normally visible only to birds, and perspectives not seeable on location.
To create a single work, Brunetti exhaustively explores each façade, taking hundreds or thousands of frames over the course of weeks or, if necessary, years. Miniscule ornamentations that would otherwise be overlooked or inaccessible, such as golden mosaics in the gables of Orvieto’s Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta or sculptural details on the soaring spires of Cologne Cathedral, become vividly clear. He then assembles the individual frames into his own hyper-realistic interpretation of the entire façade, stripped of all modern-day elements. The end result is as much like an architect’s elevation as a photograph.
IMAGE LEFT: Markus Brunetti (German, b. 1965), Cortegaça, Paróquia de Santa Marinha, 2013–2014, From the series FACADES, Archival Pigment Print, 70 4/5 x 59 in., © Markus Brunetti, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York
IMAGE RIGHT: Markus Brunetti (German, b. 1965), Orvieto, Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta, 2006–2014, From the series FACADES, Archival pigment print, 70 4/5 x 59 in., © Markus Brunetti, courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York