press release

For more than thirty years, Candida Höfer has created meticulously composed images of the interiors of public and institutional spaces—spaces marked with the richness of human activity, yet devoid of human presence. Whether they display symmetrical bookshelves at a national library or the lobby of a trendy hotel, Höfer’s images ask us to conduct distanced, disengaged examinations through the windows she creates. As a group, her rhythmically patterned images present a universe of interiors wholly constructed by human intention, unearthing the order, logic, and disruption imposed on these spaces by their now absent creators and inhabitants.

The Frye is pleased to present Candida Höfer: Architecture of Absence, the first North American retrospective devoted to this celebrated German artist. Höfer studied photography under renowned professor Bernd Becher from 1976 until 1982. She is the senior member of the first class of students to study at the Düsseldorf Academy under Becher’s tutelage in the 1970s and 1980s. Other members of the Becher circle included Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth, Andreas Gursky, and Axel Hütte. At the time, the Academy was considered the most influential art school in Germany and the work produced by Becher’s students took the art-photography world by storm. Since 1975, Höfer has had solo exhibitions in galleries and museums throughout Europe and the United States and recently represented Germany at the Venice Biennale.

New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman writes, “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.”

Candida Höfer: Architecture of Absence will be accompanied by a monograph published by Aperture Foundation, New York, in conjunction with the University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach, and the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida. Architecture of Absence examines Höfer’s unique oeuvre and the relationship of her architecture work to that of the other Becher students of the Düsseldorf Art Academy. The publication features insightful, illustrated essays by Constance W. Glenn, emeritus director of the University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach; Mary-Kay Lombino, former curator of exhibitions at the University Art Museum and recently appointed curator, The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College; and Virginia Heckert, former William and Sarah Ross Soter curator of photography at the Norton Museum of Art and recently appointed associate curator of photoraphy at the J. Paul Getty Museum.The authors 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.

This exhibition is co-organized by the University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach, and the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida. Support has been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a Federal Agency. Additional support has been provided by Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen e.V., Stuttgart.

Candida Höfer
Architecture of Absence