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Candida Höfer

Candida Höfer is a distinguished photographer known for her monumental chromogenic prints of public spaces such as libraries, lecture halls, museums, and theaters. While her subjects are often venues for large public gatherings, the images are always devoid of people––stately and timeless, the photographs eloquently express the presence of those absent. In the early 2000s, Höfer began creating monumental photographs of opera house interiors that capture the beauty of these palaces of performing arts. Her camera takes us into empty foyers, orchestras, stages, wings, and boxes. While the houses are still and empty, we can imagine the performers and the audience, as well as the fictitious figures, plots, and places that animate a night at the opera. Although many of the world’s most famous opera houses have been photographed from every angle imaginable, in Höfer’s hands we get an intimate and evocative view of these beloved spaces. Teatro di Villa Mazzacorati di Bologna I, 2006, shows a gem of a theater in Bologna, Italy, that was inaugurated in 1763. Famed for its acoustics, the house seats only eighty. The auditorium’s refined decoration features pastel frescoes on the walls and twenty atlases and caryatids seeming to shoulder the two balconies. This photograph is illustrative of Höfer’s meticulous approach to architectural interiors, and makes visible opera’s promise of high drama, escapism, and an intense shared experience. In Teatro Degollado Guadalajara I, 2015, Höfer captures an opera house of a very different scale. This panoramic view of a lavish theater seating eight hundred is shot from the stage looking out to the seats and up toward the five gilded balconies. Even the theater’s elaborate ceiling, featuring frescos depicting the fourth song of Dante Alighieri’s fourteenth-century Inferno, comes into view in this large-format image. Inaugurated in 1866 in the Mexican city of Guadalajara, the neoclassical Teatro Degollado was one of a number of opulent theaters, churches, and other prominent buildings that Höfer shot in Mexico throughout 2015. In this series, titled In Mexico, Höfer portrays six hundred years of architecture in Mexico, capturing the distinctive formal strength and enchanting details of each space.

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