A grandiose tour of Mexican architecture comes to New York

Living Large in Mexico

Interior of a white covenant

Opulent interiors, delicate dances of light and shadow, and 600 years of Mexican history are on display at Manhattan’s Sean Kelly Gallery from February 2 through March 16, 2019. Candida Höfer—In Mexico presents large-format architectural photographs from German artist Candida Höfer.

Interior of a highly decorated church
Iglesia de Santa Maria Tonantzintla I 2015 (Candida Höfer, Köln / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn Courtesy Sean Kelly, New York)

Höfer traveled to Mexico in 2015 as part of the Mexico-Germany Dual Year, a cultural and scientific exchange program between the two countries that showcased the partnership’s fruits in Mexico throughout 2016 and 2017. Höfer’s photographs, which took her across Mexico, are meticulously composed, ornate shots of grand halls, museums, palaces, and auditoriums, places of convergence that, in her series, are entirely empty.

In a press release for the show, Höfer wrote: “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.”

Museo Nacional del Virreinato Tepotzotlán V 2015 (Candida Höfer, Köln / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn Courtesy Sean Kelly, New York)

More than just large-scale photos of sweeping spaces, Candida Höfer—In Mexico also puts intimate aspects of each building on display as well. Light falling across a doorway, or hidden nooks, were captured by Höfer’s handheld camera and the fleeting instances stand in stark contrast to the much larger staged photographs. The photos are truly massive, each being at least 70 inches wide; by comparison, the more intimate photos will be presented as 16-and-9/16-inch-by-12-and-7/8-inch prints.

Hospicio Cabañas Capilla Tolsá from Daniel Buren work in situ Guadalajara I 2015 (Candida Höfer, Köln / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn Courtesy Sean Kelly, New York)

While this is the first time Höfer’s Mexico series is shown in New York, the show was previously on display in Mexico and the North Carolina Museum of Art.