For the first time Galerie Springer
Berlin presents the works of Evelyn Hofer. Her photographs cover a wide spectrum of subjects and genres. She has distinguished herself as a photographer of architecture, interiors, landscapes, but she is also known for her sensitive still lifes and portraits. The exhibition presents works from different cycles of her career.
Evelyn Hofer worked as a photographer starting in the mid-1940s. Her work is inextricably bound up with the books she illustrated in the late 1950s and 1960s for acclaimed authors such as Mary McCarthy and V.S. Pritchett. Her work in those years unforgettably evokes the atmosphere of places like Florence, London, Spain, New York, Washington and Dublin. In 1986, Evelyn Hofer took a similar approach in her series, Emerson in Italy. Her photographs are also well-known from their appearance in such magazines as Life, London Times Magazine and New York Times Magazine. And yet, she is still the most famous 'unknown' photographer in America.
Evelyn Hofer was uncompromising in her commitment to honesty and directness in her pictures and exhibited a deep empathy and understanding that allowed her to bring out the innate beauty in her subjects. She seemed to have an intuitive talent for getting to the essence of each object or person she photographed. One senses that she took plenty of time to get to know her subject before taking up her camera. She needed time to arrive at where she wanted to be, to become part of what she was trying to capture or to generate a certain intimacy with her subject. This meant for her - and through her photographs, for us, as well - apprehending the underlying nature of her subject. Until she discovered just what that was, she was not ready to take the picture. Creating a personal connection was her basic prerequisite for any photograph. Recording the essential and unchanging was her goal.
Evelyn Hofer was never one to follow the latest artistic trends. Her work is more classic than avant-garde, although her pictures are undoubtedly characteristic witnesses of their times. She had a finely tuned eye for proportion, form, color and light. Her compositions are subtle and well thought-out. And since she had a brilliant grasp of the technical side of the medium, she had no need for special effects. For her, the technology was merely the means to an end--achieving just the picture she wanted. Her work is not suffused with the explanatory, investigative drive of documentary photography. She was not out to astound or surprise her viewers. This is all the more remarkable when one appreciates the unconditional accuracy of her perception and her attention to the most minute details. However,a portrait by Evelyn Hofer, for example, never has the effect of unmasking or laying bare her sitter. Even as she subjects the sitter to her unstinting gaze and renders details with painstaking clarity, her appraisal is tempered with a warm-hearted sympathy that one can sense in the final photograph. She was the one who once advised photographers to choose an extremely long exposure time for portraits in order to allow for more of the subject's personality to come through in the picture.
Born in Marburg (an der Lahn), Germany. Her family emigrated to Switzerland an d moved to Mexico in 1942. In 1947, Evelyn Hofer moved to New York. She pursued her education in photography during her short stay in Switzerland: she apprenticed at the Studio Bettina in Zurich and studied under Robert Spreng in Basel. Additionally, she t ook private classes with Professor Hans Finsler at the Zurich School of Photography. However, it was in New York where her career as a freelance photographer began. She obtained her first commissions in the field of fashion photography from Harpers Bazaar through the efforts of painter Richard Lindner and Alexey Brodovitch in the early 50s.