Oprah, Scarlett and Brad Strip...Their Makeup for Vanity Fair

Twenty celebrities dared to go bare-faced for a Chuck Close photo shoot in the March issue of Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair’s annual — and always anticipated — Hollywood issue will no doubt feature gorgeous photographs of the highly talented and most sought-after actors on the stage and screen today. But this issue will also include something even more exquisite to look at…snapshots of 20 of the biggest names without makeup, airbrushing, sophisticated cameras or special lighting.

In other words, photographs of artists as their authentic selves.

American painter and photographer Chuck Close captured the up-close and personal shots using a 20-by-24 inch Polaroid camera. In a video interview posted on VanityFair.com, Close said he used a Polaroid because he didn’t want to “steal anyone’s image. After every shot, the picture goes up on the wall. I can look at it and the sitter can look at it. They say, ‘Oh okay, this is what we’re doing.’ And then the next one is closer. And the next one is closer until we eventually get what we want. So, it’s collaborative.”

Since these photographs were not retouched, he admits that some can be “rough.” “So I need to talk people through it,” he continued. “They have to give up a great deal of vanity to do it. And it takes a real act of generosity and faith on the part of the subject in order to go with it and to give me their image without having any control over what’s going to happen.”

The subjects were handed five non-negotiables: No entourage — arrive alone, possibly with one friend; allow three hours for the shoot; style yourself yet leave off the makeup; be happy with the simple coffee and snacks available on set; and get to the studio without the help of others.

So who were the brave souls who faced Close’s no frills, no filter camera? A few of the names include Kate Winslet, Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey, Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Lang, as well as Brad Pitt, Dustin Hoffman, Bruce Willis and George Clooney.

Close is expecting mixed reviews on his true-to-life portraits. “There will be people who think I didn’t glamorize the subject enough. And they’ll think I was cruel…They’ll be people who say, ‘Thank God somebody shows people as real people, the way they are. And their humanity shows through.’ ”

While we live in a society that can be all-too-quick to judge what we see on the outside, there is nothing more beautiful than people who are admired for being courageous enough to be genuine. Imperfections and all.

The issue hits newsstands on February 11th.

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