Marco Anelli was born in Rome in 1968. He started his career in 1986 as a photojournalist for motor racing sports. In 1992 he moved to Paris to specialize in black and white photography and its printing techniques. He also collaborated with the agency Presse Sport/L’Equipe.
In 1995 he began what has become an aspect of his work: photographic projects that evolve slowly over long periods of time, developed through an extended engagement with his subject.
The sculptures and the interior of St. Peter Basilica in Rome were the subject of his first project. Working exclusively with the natural light at different times of day, he photographed St. Peter when closed to the public and empty. A book, L’Ombra e la Luce (Shadow and Light) was published in 1998, followed by an exhibition shown in galleries from Milan to New York.
In 1997 he accepted a commission from the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome, photographing the musicians, conductors and composers participating in its concert seasons of classical music, in a series of intimate portraits captured during private moments of rehearsal. This long co-operation produced exhibitions and a publication, La Musica Immaginata (Imagined Music).
His next projects focused on architectural sites, including the modernist architecture of the Milan Fair, and the restoration of the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica. He participated in this latter project together with Mimmo Jodice and Olivo Barbieri, and the reportage produced by all three photographers was published in La Pietra e il Tempo (Stone through Time).
In 1998 he began a new photographic project on the world of soccer, photographing soccer players during major Italian championships. The images, capturing moments of intense speed, emotion, energy, and physical skill, were published in the book Il Calcio (Soccer), and won prizes from Fuji and Canon in 2001.
In 2000 he created a study of relationships seen through living creatures. The project, titled Di Te, 2000 (About you, 2000), won the Mario Giacomelli Memorial Award in 2001. In the following year he began to develop a new chapter of the project, which became Di Te, 2004 (About you, 2004).
From 2005 to 2008 he taught photography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome.
In 2007 he began Seven Chapters, a project based on the exploration of the human body. The third chapter, dedicated to the skin, took as its subject the scars of the artist Marina Abramovic.
In the same year architecture became the subject again, in a new project titled Tetris, which portrayed the materials and structures of building sites through abstract images.
In 2010 he carried out his major photographic project during Marina Abramovic’s The Artist is Present at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The only person present for the entire duration of Abramovic’s performance (three months/716 hours), he photographed each of the 1,545 visitors who took part in the performance sitting in front of the artist. The portraits, that captured the many different moments of intense emotional connection between the public and the artist, are collected in the volume Portraits in the Presence of Marina Abramovic (Damiani Publisher). The complete gallery of these portraits, presented by the MoMA on Flickr, has reached over 1.7 million views.
In 2011, the book All’Ombra del Duomo (In the Shade of the Cathedral) brought together the results of a six year-long photographic work. The restoration of Milan Cathedral, observed from the scaffold erected for the works, is depicted through a dialogue between the architecture, the sculptures and the life surrounding it.
Gesti dell’Anima (Gestures of the Spirit) is his second photographic book on classical music, collecting images from a seven year period of work at the National Academy of Santa Cecilia. The photographs, taken in the empty concert hall during rehearsals, articulate the classical music as seen through the gestures and expressions of its greatest interpreters.
Since 2011 he’s been exploring the character of the artist and their work as expressed in their studio. Something wicked this way comes is a project that leads the viewer into the creative process of worldwide famous artists such as Matthew Barney, Lawrence Weiner, Cecily Brown, Urs Fischer, Elizabeth Peyton, Julian Schnabel, Vito Acconci and others.
In 2015 he completed A Simple Story, his project on the construction of the new Whitney Museum of American Art designed by Renzo Piano, in the Meatpacking district of New York. The photographs depict, throughout the course of 4 years, all the stages of the construction. A special focus is kept on the New York workers portrayed at the building site during their work.
Marco Anelli lives and works in New York City.