Written for Vendarte.co, available at http://vendarte.co/2017/10/candida-hofers-market/ 

Analysing Candida’s market is a challenging task, although visually most of her works could be argued to be similar, most prominently in her large architecture interiors, this body of work is only part of her production that also unfolds in different formats, subjects and locations. Those elements have a major role in the demand for her photographs and the most challenging element: the editions. While the Becher’s created a conceptual framework that embodied edition and format, Candida kept a more open approach to this parameters and her ideas are more connected to the image than the photograph as an object. Therefore although the big prices are related to the large format and edition of 6, for example in City Hall Law Library (bellow), there are examples with ten, twelve and fifteen prints, also being included in our analysis. One example is the work Haus der Natur, Salzburg from 1997, an edition of twelve that in our data collection appears seven times.

Candida Hofer, City Hall Law Library, 2007. C-print.

72 7/8 x 98 3/8 inches (185 x 250 cm).

Photo courtesy of Sonnabend Gallery.

For this market analysis, Candida’s works will be classified as subject, her open series of Libraries and Museums are largely present in auctions and exhibitions, becoming her most iconic body of works. For example, her current auction record is Biblioteca Geral da Universidade de Coimbra IV(University of Coimbra’s General Library, our translation) that was sold at Christie’s in London with a hammer price of £ 65,000 in 2015, in the Post-War and Contemporary Art sale.

The series Zoo was also highlighted to illustrate a body of work in smaller prints 35 x 50 cm on average. In the classification, Public Spaces are others subjects outside libraries and museum. Unfortunately, the series Türken in Deutschland could not be separated as a group due to the lack of data, during the analised period the series only appeared at auction in two lots in a Van Ham Kunstauktionen sale in Germany, 2010.


Classification Total Sales Total # lots Bought-in  Bought-in % Average Price/sqcm
Library 719.640,09 € 49 14 28,57 % 0,81 €
Museum 750.081,83 € 96 32 33,33 % 1,21 €
Zoo 17.217,87 € 12 6 50,00 % 0,85 €
Public Spaces 1.446.500,84 € 135 53 39,26 % 1,24 €
Other 38.889,87 € 12 3 25,00 % 0,51 €

Although the Library series and the Museums are iconic, there is not a significant difference between bought-in rates and average price/sqcm. Actually, in total, the Library series represents the lower price, with € 0.81. Subject plays an important factor in the artist’s market, known subjects appeal to a general public, for example, the Louvre, sale for higher prices than other museums. Considering only the museum series, among the highest ten lots, five depicted the Louvre.

The Zoo series has the highest bought-in rates, although being an important series in the artist career, it does not perform well at auction, having lower hammer prices and failing to sale every second lot.

Candida’s market is represented by a large number of works, in average 57.4 lots per year, with a low turnover, the lowest point being 2016 with € 240,216. The total hammer prices are usually bellow the low estimate, a consequence of lots being bought-in. Overall the market for Candida’s is an active market with low average ticket and low liquidity, due to the high bought-in rates.

Afternoon I, 2016
dye transfer print
21 x 24 inch / 54 x 59.5 cm
Galerie Thomas Zander

Considering the price/sqcm the market for Candida’s shows a negative linear perspective to prices, this is a relevant characteristic since it goes against the perception that artist’s prices either thrive or sink completely, having no more active market. For Candida, although being a small negative effect, there is a general deterioration on her prices in the last seven years. In this sense, another important factor comes into play: the artist is still producing works that will significantly impact her market. This impact could be positive, in, for example, a remarkable recognising by the market and art world of a groundbreaking body of works. Or negative, for example, in flooding the market with works that are not significantly important to museums, collectors and the general public. Important to remark, although it is not the main objective of this article, that price is related to value, and value for artworks is an ongoing construction between different agents.