Candida Höfer on June 29 2013
Eberswalde, Province of Brandenburg, Germany
Candida Höfer (born 1944) is a Cologne, Germany-based photographer and a former student of Bernd and Hilla Becher. Like other Becher students – Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth – Höfer's work is known for technical perfection and a strictly conceptual approach. From 1997 to 2000, she taught as professor at the Hochschule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe.
Born 1944 in Eberswalde, Province of Brandenburg, Candida Höfer is a daughter of the German journalist Werner Höfer. In 1968, she began working for newspapers as a portrait photographer and, from 1970, as an assistant to Werner Bokelberg. She later attended the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from 1973 to 1982, where she studied film under Ole John and, from 1976, photography under Bernd Becher. Along with Thomas Ruff, she was one of the first of Becher’s students to use color, showing her work as slide projections.
Höfer began taking color photographs of interiors of public buildings, such as offices, banks, and waiting rooms, in 1979 while studying in Düsseldorf. Her breakthrough to fame came with a series of photographs showing guest workers in Germany, after which she concentrated on the subjects "Interiors", "Rooms" and "Zoological Gardens". Höfer specialises in large-format photographs of empty interiors and social spaces that capture the "psychology of social architecture". Her photographs are taken from a classic straight-on frontal angle or seek a diagonal in the composition. She tends to shoot each actionless room from an elevated vantage point near one wall so that the far wall is centered within the resulting image. From her earliest creations, she has been interested in representing public spaces such as museums, libraries, national archives, or opera houses devoid of all human presence. Höfer’s imagery has consistently focused on these depopulated interiors since the 1980s. Höfer groups her photographs into series that have institutional themes as well as geographical ones, but the formal similarity among her images is their dominant organizing principle.
In her Zoologische Gärten series (1991), Höfer shifts her focus away from interiors to of zoos in Germany, Spain, England, France, and the Netherlands. Implementing her typically descriptive style, Höfer’s images again seek to deconstruct the role institutions play in defining the viewer’s gaze by documenting animals in their caged environments.
In 2001, for Douze-Twelve, commissioned by the Musée des Beaux-Arts et de la Dentelle in Calais and later shown at Documenta 11, Höfer photographed all 12 casts of Auguste Rodin’s The Burghers of Calais in their installations in various museums and sculpture gardens. From 2004 to 2007, she traveled the world to photograph conceptual artist On Kawara's iconic Date Paintings in the homes of private collectors. In 2005, Höfer embarked upon a project at the Musée du Louvre, documenting its various galleries, examining not only the sacred art they exhibit but also their individual design, arches, tiles and embellishments, with spectators and tourists entirely absent.
Höfer’s first solo exhibition was in 1975 at the Konrad Fischer Galerie in Düsseldorf. Since then, Höfer has had solo exhibitions in museums throughout Europe and the United States, including the Kunsthalle Basel, Portikus in Frankfurt am Main, the Hamburger Kunsthalle, and the Power Plant in Toronto. She was included by Okwui Enwezor in Documenta 11 in Kassel in 2002, and she represented Germany at the Venice Biennale in 2003 together with the late Martin Kippenberger. The first comprehensive North American survey of her work was shown under the title "Architecture of Absence" at Norton Museum of Art in 2006. That same year, she had solo exhibitions at Musée du Louvre, Paris, and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.
Höfer lives and works in Cologne.
- Frieze Magazine, Issue 126, October 2009
- Guggenheim Collection: Candida Höfer
- Candida Höfer: TIMESPACES, August 30 - September 30, 2005 Kukje Gallery, Seoul.
- Spaces: Photographs by Candida Höfer and Thomas Struth, June 12 - September 5, 2011 Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown.
- Candida Höfer: Zoologische Gärten, March 11 - April 10, 2010 Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco.
- Corinne LaBalme (April 15, 2001), 'The Burghers of Calais' Being Restored in Rome New York Times.
- David Galloway (June 15, 2002), Documenta 11: the retro-ethno-techno exhibition New York Times.
- Francis Wilkinson (December 30, 2007), The Running Mate Who Wasn’t New York Times.
- Candida Höfer: The Louvre (Exhibition, Musée du Louvre, 2006-07)
- ICA, University of Pennsylvania exhibition (05/2006)
- Candida Höfer at Rena Bransten Gallery
- Spaces: Photographs by Candida Höfer and Thomas Struth at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute,Williamstown, Massachusetts, June 12, 2011 - September 5, 2011