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03 Aug 2009, Posted by Eric Karstens in Off topic: Art, etc., 0 Comments

Projects: Done – Candida Höfer photography in Leverkusen


Photographer Candida Höfer comes from the same background as her celebrity colleagues Thomas Struth, Andreas Gursky, and Thomas Ruff – the “Becher school” at the Düsseldorf Arts Academy (named after professor Bernd Becher, who died in 2007). Although she has developed her very own style, it is apparent that she, too, is interested in the facets of everyday life in industrial, lower-class neighbourhoods on the one hand, and has a keen eye for spectacular angles of deserted architecture, cityscapes or perspective patterns on the other hand – a 2006 Philadelphia show aptly called this “Architectures of Absence”.

An exhibition at the Leverkusen, Germany, Morsbroich Castle now brought together a broad selection of her works. The presentation made use of the splendid interiors of the venue, which, not coincidentally, also features in a couple of Höfer’s more recent images.

Two series struck me as particularly interesting because they had a recurrent concept: A body of 60 pictures which show how so-called “date paintings” by On Kawara are displayed by their owners, and a seven-part series showing sites where casts of Auguste Rodin’s sculpture “The Burghers of Calais” are installed.

In such a way, both series have a connecting theme that makes the individual pictures more intriguing than they would have been in their own right anyway. The On Kawara set allows glances into collector’s private homes, and it is very entertaining and surprising to see in how different types of interior design the paintings have ended up. In some cases, they are displayed solitary like gems, while in others, they share wall space with so many other objects that they become almost inconspicuous. Most of the rooms are what you would expect from the digs of modern art collectors – neutral white cubes –, but some are cluttered or stuffy and old-fashioned as well. And a few are even part of architectural landmarks themselves.

The Rodin series reminds a bit of a traveller’s snapshots, showing the Burghers of Calais in front of the Houses of Parliament in London, in a room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, behind a pillared wall at the sculpture garden of the Musée Rodin in Paris, and indeed in front of the town hall of Calais. The effect of the sculpture is always pretty different, enhanced or diminished by its context.