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b. 1944, Germany

Candida Höfer Biography

Candida Höfer is a contemporary German photographer known for her large colour photographs of interior spaces. The photographs focus on symmetry, the architecture's sense of scale, and proportion.

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Höfer studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from 1973 to 1982, first in film with the Danish filmmaker Ole John, then in photography with Bernd and Hilla Becher. The Bechers' influential ethos—characterised by an emphasis on formal qualities and emotional detachment—was absorbed by Höfer and her fellow students, among them Thomas Struth, Axel Hütte, and Thomas Ruff.

Like her teachers, who were masters of black-and-white photography, Höfer initially shunned colour. An early work, Flipper (1973), is a large photo-collage of 47 gelatin silver prints depicting pinball machines, captured with players or isolated in arcades and pubs. However, while working on her 'Türken in Deutschland' (Turks in Germany) series (1973–1979) documenting the life of Turkish migrant families in their new German homes, Höfer began to use colour, finding it more suitable than monochrome.

During Höfer's experiences working with migrants she became interested in the way people construct and engage with their environment, and how it affects their lives. The artist's subject matter shifted from people to public spaces, such as the vast interiors of cultural and institutional buildings like libraries, museums, hotels, banks, opera houses, zoological gardens, and palaces. Many of Höfer's large-scale colour photographs have been taken in European and North American cities like Düsseldorf, Naples, Venice, Florence, St Petersburg, and Philadelphia.

Höfer's images are typically empty of people, paying special attention to accentuating each space's architectural qualities. A rare exception is Stiftsbibliothek St. Gallen I (2001), which shows a vertical, interior view of the Abbey Library of St Gallen, Switzerland, from a raised vantage point. Anonymous visitors are seen roaming throughout the ground floor. Here, however, the artist used long exposure times to make the moving individuals appear blurry, abstract, and ephemeral compared to the library's hard walls and bookshelves.

In 2015, Höfer travelled to Mexico as part of the Dual Year exchange programme between Mexico and Germany to document historic and contemporary architecture there. The resulting works—later shown in the solo exhibition In Mexico at Sean Kelly, New York (2019)—include the Hospicio Cabañas in Guadalajara, which is a UNESCO World Heritage building that was erected in the 19th century. The artist photographed various passages, rooms, open doors, and nooks that she encountered, capturing a sense of classical beauty.

Höfer's works are in the permanent collections of the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Kunsthalle Basel; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Tate Modern, London, among others. In 2003, she represented Germany alongside Martin Kippenberger at the 50th Venice Biennale; in 2018, she was awarded the Sony World Photography Awards' award for Outstanding Contribution to Photography.

Höfer lives and works in Cologne.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2019

Candida Höfer Featured Artworks

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Candida Höfer Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, All In One. One Work By Each Gallery Artist at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Rämistrasse, Zürich, Zurich
14 November–12 December 2020 Group Exhibition All In One. One Work By Each Gallery Artist Galerie Eva PresenhuberRämistrasse, Zürich
Contemporary art exhibition, Candida Höfer, Candida Höfer at Kukje Gallery, Busan
18 September–8 November 2020 Candida Höfer Kukje GalleryBusan
Contemporary art exhibition, Candida Höfer, In Moskau – В Mоскве at Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Munich
22 November 2019–1 February 2020 Candida Höfer In Moskau – В Mоскве Galerie Rüdiger SchöttleMunich

Candida Höfer Represented By

Galería OMR contemporary art gallery in Mexico City, Mexico Galería OMR Mexico City
Galerie Eva Presenhuber contemporary art gallery in Maag Areal, Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland Galerie Eva Presenhuber Zurich, New York
Kukje Gallery contemporary art gallery in Seoul, South Korea Kukje Gallery Busan, Seoul
Sean Kelly contemporary art gallery in New York, USA Sean Kelly New York

Candida Höfer In Ocula Magazine

Top 5 booths at Art Busan 2016 Ocula Feature Top 5 booths at Art Busan 2016 By Angela Suh, Busan

Located a stones throw from the famed Haeundae Beach, popularised in Korean cinema and countless K-dramas, Art Busan 2016 conveyed a leisurely air brought on by the first warm days of spring. Now in its fifth edition, the fair has grown into a sizeable event showcasing some of the best works in the region. With over 190 participating galleries...

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Phong Bui Ocula Conversation Phong Bui By Stephanie Bailey, New York

In March 2014, a show opened at Paul Kasmin Gallery titled Alexander the Great: The Iolas Gallery 1955–1987, which celebrated the legendary gallerist Alexander Iolas, who was among the first to introduce American audiences to Surrealism and who gave Andy Warhol his first gallery exhibition (and, coincidentally, also his last in 1987). The...

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Photography Or Not: A Report From The Düsseldorf Photo Weekend Ocula Feature Photography Or Not: A Report From The Düsseldorf Photo Weekend By Stephanie Bailey, Düsseldorf

People are always surprised when I say Düsseldorf is a cool city. But come on : the legacy of the Düsseldorf Art Academy (aka. the Kunstakademie) is enough, even without factoring in the 19th century Düsseldorf School of Painting, or the 20th century Düsseldorf School of Photography spearheaded by the Bechers and developed by their students...

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Candida Höfer In Related Press

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Candida Höfer Takes Her Expansive Lens to Mexico Related Press Candida Höfer Takes Her Expansive Lens to Mexico 31 October 2019, Hyperallergic

Candida Höfer's photographs are so geometric and so precise that they can appear slightly uncanny, leaving viewers vaguely unsettled. Her work has been described as a 'deadpan inventory of public spaces,' 'chillinglingly awesome,' containing a 'hostility... that is bracing,' and possessing a 'classical concept of beauty.' These characterizations...

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Candida Höfer's In Mexico photographs capture 600 years of architecture Related Press Candida Höfer's In Mexico photographs capture 600 years of architecture 21 January 2019, Dezeen

From decorative Baroque churches to shadowy nooks, Mexico's architectural history is presented in this image set by German photographer Candida Höfer, which will be exhibited in Sean Kelly's New York gallery.

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A German artist with an interior sensibility: Photographer Candida Höfer has a solo show at the Kukje Gallery Related Press A German artist with an interior sensibility: Photographer Candida Höfer has a solo show at the Kukje Gallery 13 August 2018, Korea JoongAng Daily

Candida Höfer, 74, one of the biggest names in contemporary photography, is best known for photographs of interiors of public buildings such as libraries, museums and theaters without human presence in them.

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'You always find something different': Sir Elton John on his love of photography Related Press 'You always find something different': Sir Elton John on his love of photography 14 March 2017, Christie's

‘A photograph brings me so much joy, they’re beautiful objects,’ says Sir Elton John, discussing a remarkable collection of 25 works by some of the world’s greatest photographers, to be offered at Christie’s in New York on 6 April 2017. Proceeds from the sale of these works will benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), an international...

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Candida Höfer In Video & Audio

For Mario Related Video & Audio For Mario 18 July 2019, Tina Kim Gallery

Curator Adam Charlap Hyman (of Charlap Hyman & Herrero) discusses the overarching theme of For Mario.

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