A German Photographer Worships the Details in his Uncanny “FACADES”

Jun 30, 2016 11:01PM

It’s easy to make a snap judgment about “FACADES,” Markus Brunetti’s first solo exhibition at Axel Vervoordt Gallery in Antwerp. The huge, documentary-style photographs form a travelogue of sorts, offering a record of the churches, cloisters, and cathedrals Brunetti visited on his travels. While that assessment is correct, it is impressively insufficient.

Stepping closer to one of his large-scale works—some nearly 10 feet tall—you might second guess the medium. Is Saint-André-de-Bâgé, Saint-André (2016) or Magdeburg, Dom St. Mauritius und Katharina (2011) actually a highly realistic painting or drawing? In fact, they’re photographs, but not the kind you’re used to.

The German photographer’s unique process is painstakingly detailed. After choosing a facade, he spends weeks or longer capturing the subject, documenting it in small sections at a time, no more than a few square meters with each exposure. Then, using digital tools, he stitches the images together in a fully formed, coherent whole.

The resulting works are strikingly detailed. Unlike in conventional photographs of such massive subjects, you can see every glorious detail and charming imperfection, from ornate relief sculptures and stained glass windows to the cracks in stone and rusty filigree. More than a photograph, it’s like a geographic survey—an exhaustive visual record of every peak and valley in each monumental facade.

Brunetti has been on the road in Europe, working on this singular project, since 2005. He wasn’t in a rush; inspecting his work, nose nearly touching it, you won’t be either.

—Bridget Gleeson

Markus Brunetti: FACADES” is on view at Axel Vervoordt Gallery, Antwerp, May 12–Jul. 2, 2016.

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