EVELYN HOFER, NEW YORK
Friday 25 February, from 6pm
In some fifty photographs taken between 1953 and 1975, this first French exhibition dedicated to the New York body of work of Evelyn Hofer (Germany, 1922 – Mexico, 2009) paints a portrait of a little-known author, “the most famous ‘unknown’ photographer of America”. The phrase, coined by a New York Times critic, was said to make her smile; today, more than ten years after Hofer’s death, it still seems true. Her photography is, after all, discreet.
Her New York – she has lived there for exactly sixty years – is made up of placid facades, serene poses and uncluttered sidewalks; beneath the surface of her photographic image, the city is almost silent. We are far from the tumult already described in 1925 by John Dos Passos in his novel of American modernity, Manhattan Transfer; just as far from the urban cacophony exacerbated by a young William Klein in the same 1950s with his photographs taken at elbow-to-elbow.
In the city where everything is movement, Evelyn Hofer, in contrast, stops and applies herself to the practice of long exposure, at a good distance, with a tripod and a large format camera, often – and early – adopting colour. This sought-after classicism places her portraits of New York within a double, paradoxical movement: the calm of these streets gives off a feeling of immutability as much as it allows us to observe, in the depth of these skilfully staggered shots and deployed perspectives, the signs of an urban fabric in radical mutation.
In addition to black and white and colour photographs (including dye transfer prints), the exhibition combines magazines and illustrated books to illustrate the commissioned context in which, like the great majority of photographers of the period, her work developed.
Exhibition co-produced with gallery m, Bochum, Germany and GwinZegal, Guingamp.
Photograph: © Evelyn Hofer, Riker’s, 1964, courtesy of Galerie m, Bochum, Germany
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