INTERVIEW: Candida Hofer ' ....'

Great Women Artists , , , ,

What does it mean to you to be featured in Great Women Artists?  I had no idea that there is such a book and that I am in it. It’s fine. But then again it is not without contradictions, as the publisher may have recognized by putting a line through “Women”: It seems to have been necessary to put women in one book, and at the same time the publisher needs to make a point that they are not in the book because they are women. Maybe it reflects an issue that cannot be solved other than by creating a new issue.

Can you describe one artwork or series from your oeuvre that you feel was pivotal in your career? My work on Turkish “guest workers” in Germany showed me that I am not comfortable with photographing people even when they were welcoming. At the same time, it showed me the importance of the environment in which people live, work and enjoy themselves. And recently I have taken another turn going back using a hand camera for smaller sized, more abstract images as a counterbalance to the organization-intensive work with a large camera.

How has being a woman affected your career? Recognition took a little longer. But I still think it was because of the nature of my work. ...But then again, do not get me wrong: I do not deny at all that women artists are having problems—for example getting accepted by galleries and museums—because of their gender.

What makes a great artist? Being in a book like this, I assume? Greatness in art is rather a social phenomenon changing with time...

Which other great woman artists inspire you and why? There have been many artists and works that have given me inspiration and not only in photography. I have never particularly looked at the gender. 

How has the art world’s relationship to women artists changed since you began your career? How could it still improve? It is an issue that has received more attention now; I doubt it has changed perceptions to a large extent already; why otherwise the book? How could it improve? By making another book, perhaps?

What advice would you give to emerging female artists entering the art world? My advice, regardless of gender, is: Keep doing what you have to do. Be patient. Be persistent.


The most extensive fully illustrated book of women artists ever published, Great Women Artists reflects an era where art made by women is more prominent than ever. In museums, galleries, and the art market, previously overlooked female artists, past and present, are now gaining recognition and value. Featuring more than 400 artists from more than 50 countries and spanning 500 years of creativity, each artist is represented here by a key artwork and short text. This essential volume reveals a parallel yet equally engaging history of art for an age that champions a greater diversity of voices. Order your copy of Great Women Artists here.