15.04.09 - Contemporary photography

Upcoming exhibition / Urban spaces: Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Axel Hütte, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth

From May 30 th until the end of July, Fundación Proa presents in its exhibition halls Urban Spaces: Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Axel Hütte, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth, curated by Ludovico Pratesi, researcher and photography specialist. 



The show will analyze the evolution on the concept of the city in contemporary culture through the ideas and images produced by the members of the so called Düsseldorf School of Photography, composed by its five most distinguished artists: Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Axel Hütte, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth.

The influence of the artists on the art global context is due to the overhaul their works produced on the tradition of the concept and language of photography, not only through the scale of the images in their monumental format, but also through the conceptual treatment they present. Each piece recreates a unique and defined universe that concentrates in the interrelation that exists between man and his surroundings together with all its anthropological and sociocultural implications.

Urban Spaces: Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Axel Hütte, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth presents approximately 50 works that range from the early 1980s until current times, all of them with a common denominator: the concept of the city. The exhibition is designed to take the visitor, first through the artists early works - those produced during their formative years at the Düsseldorf School - continuing with their most recent body of work, in which an individual selection from each artist will emphasize their stylistic differences and personal characteristics.

The body of work exhibited is composed through the Loan of the works by each of the artists, as well as museums, art institutions and private collections.

Our exhibition is sponsored by Tenaris and Organización Techint, and counts with the collaboration from the Goethe  Institute, Buenos Aires.


Exhibition catalogue

The exhibition catalogue, conformed by approximately 200 pages, including large prints of the photographs exhibited and referential images, will be a bilingual publication, becoming one of the first Spanish catalogues for the joint group.

Each artist will count with a special section that will include an unpublished interview and a small biography. The critical essays by curator Ludovico Pratesi, and acclaimed art critics such as Armin Zweite, Pablo Perulli, and Valeria González, give clear evidence not only of the contradictions and problematics of the contemporary city, but also of the history behind the Düsseldorf School of Photography, and the artists influence in the artistic expression and revolutionary input on the photographic medium within the global context.


The artists Candida Höfer, Thomas Struth y Axel Hütte have confirmed their presence throughout the exhibition, and will be presenting their work to the general public.


The artists


Andreas Gursky (1955, Leipzig, Germany; lives and works in Düsseldorf). He started working in commercial with his father. In the early 80´s he attends Bernd Becher photography class, although he almost immediately leaves behind black and white and starts working in colour. In the mid 80`s explores the contrasts between natural landscapes and industrial areas, and takes photographs of groups of people in recreational activities embedded into landscape. 


In the early 90`s Gursky adopts a monumental format and in the mid 90`s he focuses his work on large buildings. His photographs are inhabited by people tingling in the spaces. He reproduces a world that is opening up to a global dimension. His photographs are taken from on the highs, from cranes or helicopters, digitally tweaked. A retrospective of his work is held in Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, and at the Stichting De Appel in Amsterdam. In 1998, at Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf, an exhibition of his work from 1994 to 1998 is held, and in 2001 an important retrospective is held at the New York Museum of Modern Art. In 2001 he also wins the Infinity Award for Art given by the New York International Centre of Photography. Since 2007 until today there were many exhibitions of his work held, for example, at the Kunstmuseum, Basilea, and in at Monaco Haus der Kunst. The latest exhibition, Werke 80-08, was held at the Stockholm Modern Museet and the Vancouver Art Gallery.



Candida Höfer (1944, Eberswalde, Germany; lives and Works in Cologne). She begins to work as photographer in the mid `60s focusing her gaze on waiting rooms, stations and public spaces. Hofer takes photographs in small-format devoted to show, with a simple and direct language, everyday life. From 1976 to 1982 she attends the Academy of Dusseldorf, where she learned from the Becher a certain kind of coldness when looking, but especially the use of photography as a rigorous instrument of inquiry. In 1990 began her Zoo Project, understood as a museum, in which the animals are represented as sculptures.

At the end of the `90s begins to use a larger format, with which she gets to print greater force to the image. Among Hofer individual exhibitions, the following can be mentioned: Newport Harbor Art Museum in 1991; Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art in 1992; St. Louis Art Museum  and Sonnabend Gallery at New York in 1997; retrospective exhibition Orte Jahre 1968-1999 at Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur Cologne and the Kunsthalle at Nuremberg in 1999; Architecture of  Absence at University Art Museum, Long Beach, California and at the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida, in 2005; Musée du Louvre, Paris, in 2006 and Palais des Beaux Arts at Brussels in 2007. In 2002 represented Germany at the 50th Venice Biennial.


Axel Hütte (1951, Essen, Germany; lives and works in Düsseldorf). Between 1973 and 1981 attends Bernd Becher´s photography class.  Influenced by his teacher he begins photographing the postwar German architecture with a sober and objective gaze. In 1982 Hutte wins a grant to study in London, where his work focuses on domestic interiors and industrial buildings, devoid of any human presence. In the mid ´80s he took a series of black and white portraits, unrelated to any external reference, and landscape images in a large format, which foreground topic is an architectural element, the cusp of a top, the fog or mist. Far from attempting a definition for a space, he tries to turn it anonymous, devoid of geographical coordinates. Toward the end of the ´90´s Hütte starts to represent urban landscapes by night in extreme visibility conditions. In more recent years he takes up again the portrait topic, this time confronting the human being with the grandeur of nature.

His individual exhibitions were held in the Rotterdamse Kunststichting, Rotterdam, in 1989; Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, in 1993; Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn, in 1995; Fotomuseum Winterthur, in 1997 and  Foundation for Photography, Amsterdam, in 2001, at the Henie Onstad Art Centre, Hvikodden, in 2006. Recently an important retrospective exhibition of his work has been held at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 2004.


Thomas Ruff (1959, Harmersbach, Germany; lives and works in Düsseldorf). In 1977 he attends Bernd Becher photography class, where he shows his interest in the documentary photography. Ruff makes dozens of portraits, first in small-format, and in 1986 he starts working in larger dimensions. Toward the end of the 80`s he represents postwar Germany anonymous buildings. In 1993 Ruff works on images obtained through a procedure used by the police to make identikits, and also he intervenes manually a series of small portraits extracted from medicine books. In 2001 he starts teaching at the Academy of Dusseldorf.

Personal exhibitions of his work had been held at: Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, in 1989; Centre National de la Photographie, París, in 1997 and Chabot Museum, Rotterdam, in 2001. In 2002 a first important retrospective exhibition of his work is held at the Kunsthalle, Baden Baden. Also an itinerant exhibition is shown in many European countries, Tate Gallery at Liverpool in 2003 and the Museo de Arte Contemporánea Serralves, Oporto, in 2003. In 2006 a retrospective exhibition is held at the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venecia. That same year he receives the Infinity Award from the New York International Center of Photography for the The Grammar of Photography. In 2007 Ruff is invited to show his work in dialogue with the Sprengel Museum Collection at Hannover. Early this year an interesting individual exhibition was held at the  a Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy. 


Thomas Struth (1954, Gelden, Germany; lives and works in Düsseldorf). Begins to study painting in the Kunstakademie of Dusseldorf and later he signs for Bernd Becher`s photography class. In 1978 Struth got a grant from the Academy to go to New York, where he produces his first photographs in black and white without any human presence. Later he adopts both colour and a larger format. In the mid 80`s in a series of portraits, he tackles the relationship between human and space. Those images show, above all, domestic environments. Later he captures crowds and anonymous characters in chambers of museums, exploring the dialog between the public and the work of art.

In recent years Struth has extended his language to include tropical landscapes in his work. Individual exhibitions of his work has been held at Kunsthalle, Bern and at the Yamaguchi Museum in 198; Frankfort Portikus, Chicago Renaissance Society in 1990. In 1992 at the Washington Hirschhron Museum. In 1993 at Hamburg Kunsthalle, in 1994 at Boston ICA and London ICA. In 1995 at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, and Bonn Kunstmuseum. In 1997 at the Pekín International Art Palace. In 1998 at the Carré d’Art in Nîmes and at the Ámsterdam Stedelijk Museum. In year 2000 an exhibitions were held at the Tokyo Museum of Modern Art and the New York Metropolitan Museum. At the Dallas Museum and The Moca, Los Ángeles, in 2002. In 2007 at the Prado Museum in Madrid and in 2008 at the Naples Museo Madre.



"Urban spaces: Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Axel Hütte, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth"

From 30.05.09 

To 26.07.09



Ludovico Pratesi


With the collaboration of Benedetta Carpi di Resmini


General Coordinator

Valeria González



Camila Jurado

Aime Iglesias Lukin


Organization, production, exhibition design and graphic design

Fundación Proa


Sponsored by

Tenaris – Organización Techint

With the collaboration from the Goethe Institute, Buenos Aires


For all press enquiries, you can contact Fundación Proa Press Department: 0054-11-4104-1044 / prensa@proa.org