Bernd & Hilla Becher
Jul 15 – Nov 6, 2022

Bernd & Hilla Becher, Water Tower, Verviers, Belgium

The renowned German artists Bernd and Hilla Becher (1931–2007; 1934–2015) changed the course of late twentieth-century photography. Working as a rare artist couple, they focused on a single subject: the disappearing industrial architecture of Western Europe and North America that fueled the modern era. Their seemingly objective style recalled nineteenth- and early twentieth-century precedents but also resonated with the serial approach of contemporary Minimalism and Conceptual art. Equally significant, it challenged the perceived gap between documentary and fine-art photography.

 

Bernd & Hilla Becher, Gas Tank, Wesseling / Cologne, Germany

Bernd & Hilla Becher, Lime Kiln, Brielle, Netherlands

Bernd & Hilla Becher, Chemical Factory, Wesseling / Cologne, Germany

Bernd & Hilla Becher, Blast Furnace, Youngstown, Ohio, United States

Bernd & Hilla Becher, Gravel Plant, Günzburg, Germany

Bernd & Hilla Becher, Water Towers

Bernd & Hilla Becher, Industrial Forms

Bernd & Hilla Becher, Collective Portrait: Objects with Different Functions, Grube Anna, Alsdorf / Aachen

Using a large-format view camera, the Bechers methodically recorded blast furnaces, winding towers, grain silos, cooling towers, and gas tanks with precision, elegance, and passion. Their rigorous, standardized practice allowed for comparative analyses of structures that they exhibited in grids of between four and thirty photographs. They described these formal arrangements as “typologies” and the buildings themselves as “anonymous sculpture.”

This posthumous retrospective celebrates the Bechers’ remarkable achievement and is the first ever organized with full access to the artists’ personal collection of working materials and their comprehensive archive.

 

Bernd Becher, Eisernhardter Tiefbau Mine, Eisern, Germany

Hilla Becher, [Pine Needle Tuft]

Hilla Becher, [Mountain Elm Leaf]

Hilla Becher, [Metal Forms]

Bernd Becher, Eisernhardter Tiefbau Mine, Eisern, Germany

Bernd Becher, Eisernhardter Tiefbau Mine, Eisern, Germany

Bernd Becher, Eisernhardter Tiefbau Mine, Eisern, Germany

Bernd & Hilla Becher, Water Towers

Bernd & Hilla Becher, Water Towers

Bernd Becher, Eisernhardter Tiefbau Mine, Eisern, Germany

Bernd & Hilla Becher, Water Towers

The exhibition is made possible by Joyce Frank Menschel, the Barrie A. and Deedee Wigmore Foundation, the Edward John & Patricia Rosenwald Foundation, and Linda Macklowe.

It is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in association with Studio Bernd & Hilla Becher and Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur.

The catalogue is made possible by the Mary C. and James W. Fosburgh Publications Fund.

Additional support is provided by the Mellon Foundation.

 

Bernd & Hilla Becher
July 15 – November 6, 2022 / The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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