Exhibition | Candida Höfer at the Borghese Gallery

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on June 27, 2013

As noted at Art Daily (23 June 2013) . . .

Candida Höfer per La Galleria Borghese
Villa Borghese, Rome, 20 June — 15 September 2013

Curated by Mario Codognato, Anna Coliva, and Marina Minozzi


Candida Höfer, Villa Borghese Roma I, 2012. C-print. Print size: 71 x 86 inches (180 x 217.2 cm). © Candida Höfer/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn© Candida Höfer by SIAE 2013.

The famous Galleria del Lanfranco hosts seven works by the artist Candida Höfer portraying the original reconstruction of the Borghese collection, recently restored for the I Borghese e lʼAntico exhibition (December 2011 – April 2012, curated by Anna Coliva and Marina Minozzi for Galleria Borghese and by Jean-Luc Martinez and Marie Lou Fabréga-Dubert for the Louvre) which brought back to the Gallery the most important ancient masterpieces that once belonged to the collection, mostly collected by Cardinal Scipione Borghese at the beginning of the seventeenth century and currently making up the core of the Paris Louvre Museum antiques collection, following the sale imposed by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte on his brother-in-law Camillo Borghese in 1807. Candida Höferʼs work therefore represents the only existing evidence of the collection in its original setup, which will never be replicated again: some kind of miracle that will never repeat itself.

The underlying concept of the exhibition is that out of the reconstruction of an art masterpiece such as the Galleria Borghese collection in its original makeup, another work of art was created. In that occasion Candida Höfer – known for her incomparable way of perceiving places and reproducing them through her camera – had therefore documented the mounting of the exhibition halls through the photos that are now in display in their original location, the Galleria itself. The exhibition curated by Mario Codognato, Anna Coliva and Marina Minozzi is a unique event, enabling visitors to virtually walk through the halls of “the most beautiful villa in the world” — Antonio Canovaʼs definition — and experience the fascinating atmosphere generated by the exceptional return to their place of origin of the masterpieces of one of the most distinguished and prestigious archaeological collection of all times.

Candida Höfer features among the most relevant artists of German contemporary photography. She was born in Eberswalde, Germany, in 1944 and is a leading exponent of ‘the School of Dusseldorf’. She started her artistic career in 1975 taking part in several international exhibitions, such as Documenta in Kassel in 2002 and Biennale in Venice in 2003, where she exhibited her work in the German Pavillion. Her works feature in the collections of many international museums, such as Centre Pompidou in Paris, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, Kunsthalle in Hamburg, Museum of Modern Art in New York, Kunthalle in Basel. Höfer is renowned for her shots of public spaces, such as museums, libraries, archives, theatres, offices, banks, waiting rooms, underground stations and other culturally and socially crowded places which however stand out due to the total absence of human presence. As a matter of fact, it is a ‘non-presence’ rather than an absence: the portrayed locations seem to be suspended, waiting, ready to welcome the human being, the real protagonist, enjoying those museums and frequenting those libraries. In her pictures Candida Höfer exclusively uses natural light. This peculiarity turns the picture of a place from a mere documentation to a true portrait by personifying it, interpreting its surfaces as if they were a live element, devoid of any human presence and captured in a single moment that will survive forever thanks to her work.

The seven large-size photos – roughly 180 x 200 centimeters – exhibited in the Lanfranco Hall, portray the Villa and reproduce the setting of the seventeenth and eighteenth century when sculptures belonging to the celebrated Borghese archaeological collection were still displayed in the Museum halls. Masterpieces such as The Three Graces and The Sleeping Hermaphroditus feature in Höfer’s photos alongside modern masterpieces such as the The Rape of Proserpina by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and the famous Pauline Bonaparte as Venus Victrix by Antonio Canova. However, the true protagonists of these pictures are not only these extraordinary sculptures but also the Galleria as a whole: its history, its furniture, its works: all these elements make Candida Höferʼs photographs unique and the exhibition a one-off opportunity. Hoferʼs photos stir emotions thanks to their historical background, their perspective and the brightness of the place itself, defining its original aspects and raising the images to an eternal, absolute dimension.

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