Nobody photographs libraries, those splendid and intimate cathedrals of knowledge, as beautifully as Candida Höfer. Her photographs are sober and restrained – the atmosphere is disturbed by neither visitors nor users, especially as she forgoes any staging of the locations. The emptiness is imbued with substance by a subtle attention to colour, and the prevailing silence instilled with a metaphysical quality that gives voice to the objects, over and above the eloquence of the furnishings or the pathos of the architecture.
This sumptuous volume contains Höfer’s famously ascetic images of the British Library in London, the Escorial in Spain, the Whitney Museum and the Pierpoint Library in New York, the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, the Villa Medici in Rome and the Hamburg University Library, among others.
Umberto Eco introduces the collection with a witty reflection on the role of libraries in all our lives.
Almost completely devoid of people, as is Höfer’s trademark, these pictures radiate a comforting serenity that is exceptional in contemporary photography.
'Breathtaking … brings out the scale and beauty of these temples of learning'