Lenda Murray 

Photographed at the 2003 Ms. Olympia in Las Vegas, Nevada
Born February 22, 1962 in Detroit, Michigan, USA
Resides in Venice, California, USA

Lenda Murray has been a bodybuilder for 23 years and an athlete for 31 years. She turned pro at the North American Championship in Las Vegas August 1989.

“Through bodybuilding I’ve learned to think outside of the box. It’s given me a strong foundation to stand upon. No one decides what I should look like or what I can or cannot do. Today, I’m not just strong physically, but mentally.” In describing her goals for her physique Lenda says, “I strive for a balanced physique when I train. As I train a body part I feel like I’m sculpting. I’m conscious of what needs work and what does not. Symmetry is extremely important and it’s what I call... the complete package.” In 2004, Lenda retired from professional bodybuilding and remains the most successful bodybuilder in history.

Competition Highlights: 1985 Ms. Eastern Michigan – 1st place; 1988 Michigan State Championship – 1st place; 1988 Great Lakes Championship – 1st place; 1989 Jr. Nationals – 1st place; 1989 North American Championship – 1st place, 1990-95 and 2002-03 Ms. Olympia – 1st place

© 2024 Martin Schoeller
Female Bodybuilders

The women featured in Female Bodybuilders work towards their ideal forms at great and varied cost. Many court danger by manipulating the performance enhancing drugs that are a worrying fixture and near requirement of their sport in the process. But their willingness to do this within the slim margins of their chosen sport, in contradiction to all of the widely established norms of a culture that openly rewards beauty and punishes perceived ugliness, is difficult not to respect.

I began photographing these women in 2003. From the first Polaroid, I was struck by the multi-dimensional complexity of the portrait. The contradictions were so seemingly apparent, so numerous and exciting, that I felt compelled to build a catalog outside the range of judgment; not to celebrate, condemn or expose, but merely to show.

In my other work, specifically the book and exhibition Close Up, I have tried to present intimate portraits of faces with as little artifice as possible. Familiar and famous faces are treated with the same levels of scrutiny and attention as the un-famous. The unknown and the too-well-known meet on a level platform, where a viewer’s existing notions of celebrity, value and honesty are challenged.

With the Female Bodybuilder series I am offering a proximate challenge. We all operate within narrowly constructed ideals of the good, the right, and the beautiful, all subject to the countless influences that swirl around us. The athletes presented here are no different in this regard, they are as vulnerable as any other person standing in front of a camera. So what is it that provokes our admiring, conforming, outraged, or confused response? If a subject is proud of the way she looks, whose discomfort are you feeling?
” - Martin Schoeller, Female Bodybuilders

2010, Female Bodybuilders, Hasted Hunt Kraeultler, New York, New York, USA
2008, Female Bodybuilders, Ace Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Female Bodybuilders
Pond Press

Selected Press
Tough In The Face Of Adversity, Glorious, USA
Our Eyes Are Up Here, The New York Times Sports Magazine, USA
Women Who Pump Iron, BerkshireFineArts.com, USA
Ein Pakt Aus Wille Und Chemie, Stern, Germany
Female Bodybuilders, International Center of Photography, USA
Martin Schoeller, Female Bodybuilders, Ace Gallery, USA
Robert Graham, Martin Schoeller at Ace Gallery, Beverly Hills, Coagula Art Journal, USA
Martin Schoeller: Female Bodybuilders at Ace Gallery Beverly Hills, artnet, USA
Female Bodybuilders, HotShoe International, USA
Martin Schoeller - Female Bodybuilders, ultraorange.net, USA
Les Tops Du Bodybuilding Par, PHOTO, France
I’ll Be Sinew, The Sunday Times, USA
Biomedical Enhancements: Entering a New Era, Issues in Science and Technology, USA
Martin Schoeller Female Bodybuilders, 1000 Words Photography, USA
Martin Schoeller Female Bodybuilders, The Photo Book, USA
Martin Schoeller Female Bodybuilders, Russia
Candid Camera, Marie Claire, USA
Une rentrée culturissme, A Nous Paris, France
Martin Schoeller, ArtForum, USA
Chelsea Photo Exhibit Flexes Viewers’ Notions of Beauty, DNAinfo, USA
Bodybuilders, Esquire Magazine, Russia
Der Kult um den Körper, GEO, Germany
A photo show with real muscle, LA Times, USA
Noted, Photographer’s Forum, USA
Bilden är död länge leve bilden, red, Sweden
Female Bodybuilders, The Magazine of the Arts, USA
On And Off The Walls: Female Bodybuilders, The New Yorker Photobooth, USA
Martin Schoeller, “Female Bodybuilders”, TimeOut, USA
Incredible pictures capture every ripple of world’s strongest women as female bodybuilders, DailyMail, UK
Martin Schoeller - Female Bodybuilders, Ultra Orange, USA
MRS testosteron, velvet, Netherlands
Sculpting Beauty, Velvetpark, USA