Candida Höfer

Inside glimpse

“I photograph in public and semi-public spaces that date from various epochs. These are spaces accessible to everyone. They are places where you can meet and communicate, where you can share or receive knowledge, where you can relax and recover. They are spas, hotels, waiting rooms, museums, libraries, universities, banks, churches and, as of a few years ago, zoos. All of the places have a purpose, as for the most part do the things within them.”

Along with Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff and Thomas Struth, Candida Höfer belongs to the first generation of students who attended Bernd and Hilla Becher’s photography class at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art. Cool objectivity, a precise grasp of details, and an eye for structure are what characterize the work of the teachers – and of their students. In Candida Höfer’s case, she also brings to bear a distinctive interest in rows and orders. Since the 1980s, her principle motif has been interiors which she captures in thematic blocks and standardized formats.

Apart from surfaces and forms, light and color are strongly present in her works. Irrespective of whether the lighting is artificial or natural, Candida Höfer relies on the light available, considering it an integral part of the interior in question. Yet this does not imply that she regards her work as mere documentation. What she wants is to reproduce the particular atmosphere of a room – not as the human eye would, but through the eye of a camera.

Candida Höfer immerses herself fully in the aesthetic autonomy of abstract structures. Mainly, she shows us rooms bereft of occupants and thus not performing their actual function. Yet at the same time, the photographs cannot and do not wish to deny the existence of actual persons. Nothing is self-evident or assumed, everything has a story: empty rows of tables and chairs, books standing in a row, various architectural styles, overlapping historical epochs. Candida Höfer’s people-less rooms are cultural spaces in which change is given tangible form. People are not omitted, they just don't happen to be present.

Biographical information

1944

born in Eberswalde

1964-68

studied at the Kölner Werkschule

1973-76

studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, film class of Ole John

1982

studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, photography class of Bernd and Hilla Becher

lives and works in Cologne