Candida Höfer - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 14, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Ben Brown Fine Arts, London
    Sotheby's, London, Contemporary Art Day Auction, 13 October 2012, lot 129

  • Literature

    Aperture, Candida Höfer: Architecture of Absence, p. 75
    Schirmer/Mosel, Candida Höfer: Libraries, pp. 20-21

  • Catalogue Essay

    Designed by Charles McKim of the famed architecture firm McKim, Mead & White, and constructed between 1902 and 1906, the Pierpont Morgan Library was built to house its financier namesake’s private library, vast collection of historical manuscripts, old master drawings, prints and other rare materials. It became a public institution in 1924, and in the nearly 100 years since has continued to grow, both in physical footprint—now encompassing multiple buildings across half a city block—and holdings.

    When Candida Höfer photographed this hallowed institution in 2001, she had already established her reputation as a master photographer of grand interiors with a keen interest in libraries. While she is often thought of in the context of her Düsseldorf School of Photography peers, including Andreas Gursky, Thomas Struth and Axel Hütte, her work is distinguished for its focus on architectural space and rigorous commitment to documenting it devoid of people. Her work is not simply a document of space; rather, it is a meditation on function and history, themes that echo resoundingly in the present lot.

    In Pierpont Morgan Library, New York IV, 2001, Höfer captures the opulence of the room in exquisite detail. From the ornate architectural moldings that line the base of the embellished ceilings just out of view, to the vibrantly red velvet rug, and the walnut bookshelves with metal grills that keep the library’s collection of European literature safely housed, the decor rivals that of a Renaissance palace, harkening back to an era when intellectual curiosity was celebrated. At the core of Höfer's work is a reverence for the past and for the sacred spaces that allow us to learn from it through its art, music and literature.

    Other prints of this image are the collections of Harvard Art Museums (Busch-Reisinger Museum) and Brigham Young University Museum of Art.

    This work is presented in a bespoke bronzed steel frame with Optium Museum Acrylic.


Pierpont Morgan Library New York IV

Chromogenic print.
47 1/2 x 61 in. (120.7 x 154.9 cm).
Overall 62 3/4 x 76 1/2 in. (159.4 x 194.3 cm)

Signed in ink, printed title, date and number 6/6 on a label affixed to the reverse of the flush-mount.

$50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for $87,500

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairwoman, Americas



New York Auction 14 October 2020