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To mark the 100th birthday of Evelyn Hofer, “the most famous unknown photographer in America” (Hilton Kramer), and the 120th birthday of the painter Richard Lindner, Neues Museum Nürnberg presents a joint exhibition of the two artists. 100 photos by Evelyn Hofer, mostly “street photography”, are the focus of the show.
Hofer and Lindner were linked by the fate of emigration. They met in New York where Hofer, then working as a fashion photographer, had moved in 1946, soon joining a circle of friends that also included Linder, also originally from Germany. At first, they both experienced the city at a certain remove – Lindner speaks of the viewpoint of a “tourist” and on arrival Hofer described New York as an “unhuman city” to which she would always prefer the old continent of Europe. This gave them both a sharp eye for both the contradictory and the appealing aspects of New York.
The exhibition presents Hofer and Lindner as two highly individual artist personalities working in different media. But thanks to their shared experience of the city which in the 1950s and ‘60s overtook Paris as the capital of the art world, their motifs overlap in ways that allow interesting juxtapositions and comparisons. The urban iconography of a multi-ethnic population, skyscraper-lined streets, and loud advertising messages on neon signs and billboards can be found in both Hofer’s photographs and in Lindner’s paintings, prints and drawings.
The two artists’ pictures of the city frame the exhibition. “In New York, everyone is performing,” Lindner comments, “the city is a huge stage, twenty-four hours a day.” Hofer’s photographs focus on this stage and the scenes acted out upon it. Most of the pictures are from the years 1963–1965 when she was working on her book New York Proclaimed (1965).
The show concludes with still life photographs that look like Old Master paintings. Commenting on a postcard of a still life by Zurbarán, Hofer reportedly said: “It’s really a shame that photography was invented.” In this series, shot in New York, she expresses her reverence for painting.
Exhibition realized in cooperation with The Estate of Evelyn Hofer and Galerie m, Bochum.