New York Photo Review
NYPR Archives - 2010

Candida Höfer
Florence and Naples
Reviewer #1
Candida Hofer, Accademia Firenze I 2008, courtesy Sonnabend Gallery

As one enters the Sonnabend Gallerie on a sunny day you immediately come across the large sized ornate interiors that are the signature subjects of Candida Höfer’s photographs. But the large frosted windows of the gallery are letting in too much light, and the reflections and uneven illumination make it hard to make out the details of what is being shown. After strolling about in this palazzo-sized gallery for a while however, then returning to the main room with eyes now adjusted a bit, it becomes clear that Höfer in these photographs has made bright light, in this case the bright, Mediterranean light of Florence and Naples, itself the subject of this set of photos.

In much of her earlier work, the elaborate, over-the-top, rooms she has photographed have been incredibly evenly illuminated, every soffit and putto clearly defined. In this new work it is almost as if she has given in to the sun, large areas of the pictures are white. The range of light in the scene exceeded the ability of the film to record it (the negatives were burned out, as the old film boys would say.) But in these pictures the intense light becomes the principal focus. We see this also in the “Accademia Firenze I” how the light from the lit chandeliers obliterate the objects it is illuminating. And even Michaelangelo’s David is upstaged by the power of the brightly sun-lit dome above his head.

Whether this gambit works is questionable, the overwhelming technical perfection of the earlier pictures is a large part of what makes them memorable. For this series I still have the nagging worry, is this art, or is it just over-exposed negatives?

 by unidentified photographer.
Candida Höfer, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi Firenze I, 2008, courtesy Sonnabend Gallery

Candida Höfer
Florence and Naples

536 W 22nd St. Ground Fl
Chelsea         Map

212 627 1018

Tuesday, March 2 to
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Hours: Tue-Sat, 10 to 6