Photographer Candida Höfer Captures Grand Mexican Architecture in New Exhibition

Candida Höfer – In Mexico, on view at Sean Kelly Gallery in New York City through March 16, continues the artist’s decades-long investigation of architecture’s psychological effects.
Candida Hofer photography exhibition Sean Kelly

Palacio de Bellas Artes Ciudad de México III 2015. Höfer photographed the Palacio and other buildings across Mexico as part of the Mexico-Germany Dual Year program. The resulting show, Candida Höfer – In Mexico, has been traveling but is now on view at Sean Kelly Gallery in Manhattan.  © Candida Höfer, Köln / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn. Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York


The Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City is quite simply a visual feast—it’s encrusted with richly-veined marble, crystal lights, bronze figures, and vibrant paintings. The entire building is designed to accommodate crowds and resonate with music and drama. But what happens when you take away the throngs of people, the troupes of performers?

That’s what the German artist Candida Höfer sought to explore when she photographed the Palacio, along with numerous other grand Mexican buildings, in 2015. Höfer has been using this approach for decades: By capturing expansive architectural volumes devoid of their usual crowds, she seeks to better understand the architecture’s effects on humans. “I realized that what people do in those places—and what the spaces do to them—is more obvious when nobody is present, just as an absent guest can often become the topic of conversation,” said Höfer in a press release.

In her travels throughout Mexico, Höfer photographed a wide range of architectural styles (from Art Deco to Baroque and Neoclassical) as well as building typologies (from theaters to museums and churches). Some photographs are thoroughly minimal (such as with the Edificio Basurto), while others are brimming with minute architectural details. In total, 26 photographs and two projections are on view at Sean Kelly Gallery.

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Categories: Arts + Culture