Candida Höfer

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Candida Höfer
Höfer in 2013
Born (1944-02-04) 4 February 1944 (age 80)
EducationKunstakademie Düsseldorf
Known forPhotography
MovementDüsseldorf School of Photography

Candida Höfer (born 4 February 1944) is a German photographer. She is a former student of Bernd and Hilla Becher. Like other Becher students, Höfer's work is known for technical perfection and a strictly conceptual approach.[1] From 1997 to 2000, she taught as professor at the Hochschule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe. Höfer is the recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Contribution to Photography award, as part of the Sony World Photography awards.[2] She is based in Cologne.

Early life and education[edit]

Candida Höfer was born in 1944 in Eberswalde, Province of Brandenburg.[3][4] Höfer is a daughter of the German journalist Werner Höfer. From 1964 to 1968 Höfer studied at the Kölner Werkschulen (Cologne Academy of Fine and Applied Arts). After graduation, she began working for newspapers as a portrait photographer, producing a series on Liverpudlian poets.[3] From 1970 to 1972, she studied daguerreotypes while working as an assistant to Werner Bokelberg [de] in Hamburg.[3] She later attended the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from 1973 to 1982, where she studied film under Ole John and, from 1976, photography under Bernd Becher.[5] Along with Thomas Ruff, she was one of the first of Becher's students to use color, showing her work as slide projections. While at school, she conceived a film which she shot jointly with Tony Morgan in the Düsseldorf ice cream parlour Da Forno in 1975.[6]


Höfer initially worked with black-and-white photography, such as with Flipper (1973), a large photo-collage consisting of 47 gelatin silver prints. The images all depict pinball machines in arcades and pubs, sometimes seen with players and sometimes by themselves. Shortly afterwards, she began working on her 'Türken in Deutschland' (Turks in Germany) series (1973–1979), which follows Turkish migrant families in their new German homes. It was during this period that Höfer became interested in colour, as she felt it suited her works better, and in interior spaces and their impact on the people who inhabit them and vice versa.[7]

Höfer began taking color photographs of interiors of public buildings, such as offices, banks, and waiting rooms, in 1979.[3] 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.[8] 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.[9][10] 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 shifted her focus away from interiors to 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.[11]

In 2001, for Douze-Twelve, commissioned by the Musée des Beaux-Arts et de la Dentelle in Calais[12] 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.[13] 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.

Major exhibitions[edit]

Höfer's first solo exhibition was in 1975 at the Konrad Fischer Galerie in Düsseldorf.[14] Since then, Höfer has had solo exhibitions in museums throughout Europe and the United States, including the Centro de Fotografía at the Universidad de Salamanca, the Galerie de l’École des Beaux-Arts in Valenciennes, the Kunsthalle Bremen, the Louvre, the Kunsthalle Nürnberg, the Kunsthaus Hamburg, the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP)), the Museum Folkwang, and the Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn[3] She has also had an exhibition at the Portikus in Frankfurt am Main,[15] She was included by Okwui Enwezor in Documenta 11 in Kassel in 2002.[13] In 2003 the artist represented Germany with the late Martin Kippenberger in the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, which was curated by Julian Heynen.[16] The first comprehensive North American survey of her work was shown under the title Architecture of Absence at Norton Museum of Art in 2006.[17] That same year, she had a solo exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.[18] She is currently represented by Sean Kelly Gallery and Kotaro Nukaga in Japan.[19]


She won Outstanding Contribution to Photography at the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards[20]

Art market[edit]

The highest price reached by one of her photographs was when Biblioteca Geral da Universidade de Coimbra IV (2006) sold by £80,500 ($121,233) at Christie's London, on 12 February 2015.[21][22]

Public collections[edit]

Höfer's work is held, among others, in the following permanent public collections:

Personal life[edit]

Höfer lives and works in Cologne.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Frieze Magazine, Issue 126, October 2009". Archived from the original on 21 February 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  2. ^ "Candida Höfer awarded 2018 Outstanding Contribution to Photography". Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Collection Online, Candida Hofer". Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  4. ^ Great Women Artists. Phaidon Press. 2019. p. 190. ISBN 978-0-7148-7877-5.
  5. ^ "Artist Candida Hofer", Sean Kelly Gallery, Retrieved online 14 October 2018.
  6. ^ Candida Höfer. Düsseldorf, September 14, 2013 – February 9, 2014 Archived 14 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf.
  7. ^ Paik, Sherry (2 November 2021). "Candida Höfer". Ocula. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  8. ^ Candida Höfer: TIMESPACES, 30 August – 30 September 2005 Kukje Gallery, Seoul.
  9. ^ Spaces: Photographs by Candida Höfer and Thomas Struth, June 12 – September 5, 2011 Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown.
  10. ^ Höfer, Candida (2013). "Architecture: A Personal Memory". World Literature Today. 87 (2): 98–104. doi:10.7588/worllitetoda.87.2.0098. JSTOR 10.7588/worllitetoda.87.2.0098. S2CID 163701643.
  11. ^ Corinne LaBalme (15 April 2001), 'The Burghers of Calais' Being Restored in Rome The New York Times.
  12. ^ a b David Galloway (15 June 2002), Documenta 11: the retro-ethno-techno exhibition The New York Times.
  13. ^ "About the artist – Candida Höfer – Artists – Galerie Thomas Zander". Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  14. ^ "#43 Candida Höfer: Räume – Portikus Frankfurt". Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  15. ^ "History of the German Pavilion" Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Deutscher Pavillon, Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  16. ^ "Candida Hofer: Architecture of Absence". Art Daily. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  17. ^ "Candida Höfer". IMMA. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  18. ^ "Candida Höfer - Artists - Sean Kelly Gallery". Retrieved 19 September 2023.
  19. ^ Barnes, Freire (16 April 2018). "This German Artist Has Just Been Awarded Outstanding Contribution to Photography". Culture Trip. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  20. ^ "Apollo Magazine". 19 October 2023.
  21. ^ "Christie's". 22 March 2013.
  22. ^ "The Jewish Museum". Jewish Museum (Manhattan). Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  23. ^ "Deichmanske Bibliothek Oslo II". Guggenheim. 1 January 2000. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  24. ^ "Candida Höfer. Historisch-Geographischer Schul-Atlas from the series Ex Libris. 2009 (originally published 1860) | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  25. ^ "Palacio Real Madrid V 2000". International Center of Photography. 31 January 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  26. ^ "Candida Höfer, Musée du Louvre Paris VII, 2005". SFMOMA. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  27. ^ Tate. "Candida Höfer born 1944 | Tate". Tate. Retrieved 11 March 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]