After receiving critical acclaim at the State Hermitage Museum in 2015, Candida Höfer's latest series, Memory - capturing the splendour of St Petersburg and its magnificent buildings - will travel to Ben Brown Fine Arts Hong Kong in March, coinciding with Art Basel Hong Kong 2016.
The Hermitage Museum, Pushkin Palace, Catherine Palace Pushkin, Mariinsky Theatre, as well as the palaces of Pavlovsk and Yusupov, provide the glorious setting for this new series produced in the summer of 2014. The empty interiors of palaces, opera houses, libraries, museums and theatres are part of the artist's meticulous and skilful documentation of public spaces which has brought her international prominence. Through her lens, Höfer captures mankind's greatness - extraordinary buildings and architecture associated with cultural memory and history - yet her spaces are consistently devoid of human presence. For her, 'an absent guest is often the subject of a conversation'. Here the architecture takes centre stage, losing its attribute of public space, a space created for man, to become an idealised image that could not exist in the public sphere, a world where man has no place.
As curator Nadezda Sinyutina from the State Hermitage Museum asserts, 'by drawing us into the inaccessible, strange and private life of public spaces and breaking through our inherent difficulties in the perception of architecture, Höfer's photographs return to public spaces the aura of unique works of art'.
Candida Höfer produces these large-format photographs without digital enhancement or alteration, using long exposure and working solely with the existing light source. The effect is a rare combination of intimacy and scale, in which intricate architectural detail is captured without sacrificing the sense of space and civilised order.
Höfer is a member of the Düsseldorf School (Kunstakademie Düsseldorf) and was a noted pupil of Bernd and Hilla Becher, who pioneered a type of detached objectivity in their work.The Bechers' black and white photographs of industrial landscapes and architecture embodied a clinical, documentary style, which Höfer has retained in her work through the same neutral and methodical process, yet her large-scale colour prints celebrate the ornateness and rich cultural history of her subjects.