Candida Höfer

Candida Höfer

Candida Höfer on 29 June 2013
Born 1944
Eberswalde, Province of Brandenburg, Germany
Education Kunstakademie Düsseldorf
Known for Photography

Candida Höfer (born 1944) is a Cologne, Germany-based photographer and a former student of Bernd and Hilla Becher. Like other Becher students – Axel Hütte, Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth – 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.[2]

Early life and education

Born 1944 in Eberswalde, Province of Brandenburg, Candida Höfer is a daughter of the German journalist Werner Höfer. From 1964 - 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 in Hamburg.[4] 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. While at school, she conceived a film which she shot jointly with Tony Morgan in the Düsseldorf ice cream parlour Da Forno in 1975.[5]


Höfer began taking color photographs of interiors of public buildings, such as offices, banks, and waiting rooms, in 1979 while studying in Düsseldorf.[6] 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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9]

In 2001, for Douze-Twelve, commissioned by the Musée des Beaux-Arts et de la Dentelle in Calais[10] 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.[11] 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

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. 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.[12] 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's works are represented in important collections worldwide, including the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Kunsthalle Basel; Kunsthalle Hamburg; Kunsthaus Bregenz; Museum Folkwang, Essen; Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis; among others.[13] Major private collectors include United States Senator Thomas Eagleton.[14]

Personal life

Höfer lives and works in Cologne.


External links

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