Portraits of Spaces by Candida Höfer

By Anna Savitskaya - Thursday, September 27, 2018
Portraits of Spaces by Candida Höfer

“I realised the importance and impact of the surrounding spaces we inhabit, which are built and formed by people for people.”

                           “I realised the importance and impact of the surrounding spaces we inhabit, which are built and formed by people for people.” - Candida Höfer.

Born in 1944 and based in Germany, Candida Höfer is a photographer and former student of Bernd and Hilla Becher. Höfer has been creating color photographs of the interiors of public theatres, libraries, museums, zoological gardens, banks since 1979. No people appear in her images. The aesthetic composition and perception of space in her work could also be named “portraits of spaces".

In 2005 during the closing hours of the museum, Höfer worked on project at the Musée du Louvre, documenting its exhibits, galleries and architectural concepts. Her most recent interests lie in abstract work. 

ArtDependence had a chance to ask Candida Höfer about her work, special projects and her perspectives on contemporary art.

Candida Höfer, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg Herzog & de Meuron Hamburg XII, 2016. C-Print, 180 x 166.4 cm. © Candida Höfer, Köln; VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Candida Höfer, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg Herzog & de Meuron Hamburg VIII,  2016. C-Print, 180 x 174.3 cm. © Candida Höfer, Köln; VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

ArtDependence (AD): Among other great photographers you were a student of Bernd and Hilla Becher at the Düsseldorf School of Photography. Does your love towards "portraits of spaces" stem from these early times or it did it develop later?

Candida Höfer (CH): My interest in spaces developed from my work with turkish workers in Germany. During that process, I realised the importance and impact of the surrounding spaces we inhabit, which are built and formed by people for people.

AD: You have photographed many public or semi-public spaces. What locations are most appealing to you?

CH: What attracts me to a certain space or location is difficult to generalise. I think there must be a specific relationship when I am in the space, something that moves me personally. It does not have to hold a certain history, or belong to old traditions. There could be many factors that grab me; it is a very personal thing. 

Candida Höfer, Windows 2016. Dye Transfer Print, 59.1 x 51.5 cm. © Candida Höfer, Köln; VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Candida Höfer, Kunstakademie Düsseldorf III, 2011. C-Print, 180 x 152.4 cm. © Candida Höfer, Köln; VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

AD: From 2004 to 2007 you travelled the world to photograph a series of Date Paintings by conceptual artist On Kawara, as displayed in the homes of the private collectors. How are you connected with the work of On Kawara? Do you appreciate his work? 

CH: Of course I have always liked his work, not only his Date Paintings. So I felt very honored indeed when Kasper König and On Kawara approached me. On Kawara passed away in 2010, I’m grateful they asked me to photograph these works.

AD: What did color bring into your work?

CH: Color is part of how we see things, it impacts how the world occurs to us. For me, colour helps us avoid being trapped in nostalgia.

AD: Your recent work is more abstract, giving attention to details and composition. What propelled you to transform your "signature style"?

CH: I continue to work with spaces. But this recreation of “style” actually allows me to return to my some of my initial approaches to photography: using a hand held camera, no organisational overheads, reacting spontaneously to details, structures and colors. The change has brought a renewed freshness and freedom to my process.

AD: How do you feel about mobile photography? Does it have its place in contemporary art?

CH: Why not?

Candida Höfer, Eckermannstraße Hamburg, 1978. From the series Türken in Deutschland 1973-79. Gelatin silver print, 24.1 x 30.4 cm. © Candida Höfer, Köln; VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Candida Höfer, Opernhaus Köln II, 2007. C-Print, 200 x 337 cm. © Candida Höfer, Köln; VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Candida Höfer, Musée du Louvre Paris I, 2005. C-Print, 180 x 227.2 cm. © Candida Höfer, Köln; VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Candida Höfer, Teatro Cervantes Buenos Aires I, 2006. C-Print, 180 x 240 cm. © Candida Höfer, Köln; VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

AD: Do you follow any trends in contemporary photography?

CH: Not only photography; current photography is an integral part of  contemporary art. As much as possible, I follow a broad spectrum of the contemporary art landscape. I’m interested in what’s happening in the painting, sculpture, performance and mixed-media worlds.

AD: You had a chance to work at the Musée du Louvre, documenting its various galleries, exhibits and interior details without the presence of visitors around. Could you describe how that was for you?

CH: Simply a privilege. Can you imagine? Being alone with the Mona Lisa, an absolute privilege. That said, there was not much time to indulge. I had work to do!

All images: Courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne

Anna is a graduate of Moscow’s Photo Academy, with a previous background in intellectual property rights. In 2012 she founded the company Perspectiva Art, dealing in art consultancy, curatorship, and the coordination of exhibitions. During the bilateral year between Russia and The Netherlands in 2013, Perspectiva Art organized a tour for a Dutch artist across Russia, as well as putting together several exhibitions in the Netherlands, curated by Anna. Since October 2014, Anna has taken an active role in the development and management of ArtDependence Magazine. Anna interviews curators and artists, in addition to reviewing books and events, and collaborating with museums and art fairs.

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