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Becher, Bernd & Hilla

Biography

Bern Becher: German, 1931-2007;
Hilla Becher: German, 1934-2015

Details

Deriving inspiration from the Neue Sachlichkeit photographs of August Sander, and from their own passion for the rapidly disappearing industrial architecture of Germany, Bernd and Hilla Becher began in the late 1950s to document the anonymous and often disused manufacturing and domestic structures they encountered throughout Europe and the United States. Working methodically, the Bechers followed a precise practice in documenting these architectural forms and complexes, producing sequences that looked at separate structures from a variety of angles as well as within the surrounding natural and manmade contexts. In their straightforward black-and-white architectural photographs, the Bechers sought to record, seemingly as objectively as possible, the specific character of each example of a type of construction—water towers, gas tanks, blast furnaces, mine heads, framework houses. Therefore, every building was photographed in almost exactly the same way, frontally, in isolation, from a reasonable distance, against a neutral overcast sky. Relating similar buildings according to their structural form and original purpose, the Bechers created a vast taxonomy of vernacular architectural types. Beginning in the 1970s, the Bechers presented these works as precisely ordered grids, which they called “typologies.”

Artworks by Becher, Bernd & Hilla

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