Since the early 1980s Höfer has photographed libraries, museums and opera houses with a respectful distance and arranged in meticulous compositions. The absence of people in these cultural institutions of preserving, representing, mediating, dwelling – properties that are also inherent to photography – allow the artist to focus attention on the inner structures of the spaces. On view at a current show at Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne, are concentrated, surprisingly minimalist images from 2003 to 2016 of interiors of the Neuer Stahlhof and the Schmela Haus in Düsseldorf as well as the Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven.
„Observations“ has been developed in close collaboration with the artist and assembles an exciting selection of new dye transfer prints by Candida Höfer. These works are presented to the public for the first time and offer an interesting juxtaposition with recent large-scale colour images of interiors.
In 2002 the Cologne based artist participated in documenta 11, in the following year she exhibited at the German Pavilion during the Venice Biennale and is recognised as one of the most important contemporary artists in Germany today. Informed by the notion of visual memory and an interest in how people shape their environment, her projects explore the aesthetics of photographed spaces.
Each taken after an architectural or functional alteration, they mark the transitions and continuities of cultural memory and renewal. Beyond the opulent colourfulness and ornaments that impress the viewer in Höfer’s symmetrical, central perspectives of halls and castles, these characteristic sections and structures of the spaces are portrayed in shades of off-white and grey. The palette and perspectives capture the objective building style, whose reduced forms follow from function and material.
In the images of the spirally winding staircase of the Neuer Stahlhof, for example, extremely high and low angles cause a degree of alienation that verges on the abstract. Alongside the large-scale works, the exhibition introduces a special selection of new dye transfer prints on view for the first time. Its images attest to a tendency towards abstraction by condensing architectural details in close-ups and occasionally dispensing with references to objects altogether.
GALERIE THOMAS ZANDER