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Vol 57 No. 2 | Jan. 2005
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University Art Museum to Present Exhibition of Work by German Artist

The University Art Museum (UAM) at CSULB, in conjunction with the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Fla., will present an exhibition of work by German artist Candida Höfer from Jan. 27 through April 17 that will include a personal appearance by the artist on Saturday, Feb. 26, in a special "meet the artist" reception.

"Candida Höfer: Architecture of Absence," the artist's first retrospective in the United States, includes 50 photographs and will be accompanied by a seminal catalogue published by the Aperture Foundation. The exhibition and accompanying book mark the most significant North American exposure to date for this celebrated German artist.

For more than 30 years, Candida Höfer has been photographing rooms in public places that are centers of cultural life, such as libraries, museums, theatres, cafés, universities, and historic houses and palaces. Among the unique aspects of Höfer's work is the fact that typically the people who would inhabit these spaces are absent, thus enabling her to discover in the spaces what she describes as an "almost magical presence of things."

In looking at Höfer's work, the viewer can revel in the exquisite detail of her meticulously composed images, which are infused with the richness and vibrancy of implied human activity. Whether they display symmetrical bookshelves at a national library or the lobby of a trendy hotel, Höfer's images ask us to conduct a distanced examination through the window she has created. Moved by the uncommonly beautiful aspects of her depiction of interior architecture, one becomes intensely aware of a precisely conceived environment imbued with light and order. Seen as a group, her rhythmically patterned images present a universe of interiors wholly constructed by human intention, unearthing the patterns of order, logic, and disruption imposed on these spaces by their now absent creators and inhabitants.

New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman wrote, "Ms. Höfer is a straight photographer whose humanity and improvisatory spirit come across if we are patient enough to appreciate the serendipity of her light, the subtlety of her color and the quiet, melancholy pleasure she seems to take in finding, as if almost by chance, poetry in institutional form."

Höfer is the senior member of the Becher circle, the first class of students, including Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth, Andreas Gursky, and Axel Hütte, to study at the Dusseldorf Academy under the tutelage of renowned professor Bernd Becher in the 1970s and 1980s. The work that emanated from the academy, considered the most influential German art school of the time, and Becher's classes soon took the art-photography world by storm.

Since 1975, she has had solo exhibitions in galleries and museums throughout Europe and the United States, including the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany; the Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland; the Centre Photographique d'lle de France; Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco; Johen & Schottle, Cologne; and Sonnabend Gallery, New York. She has participated in group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Kunsthaus Bregenz; the Museum Ludwig, Cologne; and Documenta 11. She recently represented Germany at the Venice Biennale (together with the late Martin Kippenberger) and is represented by many galleries in Europe and the United States.

The accompanying hardcover publication, Candida Höfer: Architecture of Absence, is the first major English-language examination of Höfer's work. The publication features more than 50 color plates and three insightful, illustrated essays by Constance W. Glenn, emeritus director of the University Art Museum; Mary-Kay Lombino, curator of exhibitions at the University Art Museum; and Virginia Heckert, William and Sarah Ross Sofer curator of photography at the Norton Museum of Art, who place Höfer's work in critical context and compare and contrast it to the work of her mentors, Bernd and Hilla Becher, as well as her fellow students, and those artists whose work influenced or inspired them.

 

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