Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Oberdielfer Strasse 14, Oberdielfen

Artist:
Bernd and Hilla Becher (German, active 1959–2007)
Date:
1960
Medium:
Gelatin silver print
Dimensions:
36 x 30.2 cm (14 3/16 x 11 7/8 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2004
Accession Number:
2004.311.2
Not on view
Although the façades of framework houses in the Siegen industrial region uncannily recall the gridded surfaces of modernist paintings by Mondrian, their distinctive look was actually borne from economic necessity: by law, wood from nearby forestland was to be saved to make charcoal for the production of iron, and the use of timber was restricted to basic structural, rather than ornamental, purposes. The immigrant workers often built their houses themselves from parts cut and fitted together by carpenters, and thus they constitute a kind of domestic equivalent of the "form-from-function" appearance of the preparation plants in which they worked.
For Bernd Becher, whose ancestors included iron workers from Siegen, the framework houses exerted an atavistic pull, "a real extension of childhood," and were among the earliest subjects that he photographed with his wife and lifelong collaborator, Hilla Becher. Photographed head on and against a gray blank sky, this pair of façades shows the Bechers' style in embryonic form: meaning is achieved through comparative examination of similar forms-a deliberately neutral, Conceptually-oriented approach derived in equal measure from industrial photographers of the late nineteenth century and New Objectivity photographers of the 1920s such as August Sander, Albert Renger-Patzsch, and Karl Blossfeldt.
Inscription: Inscribed by Hilla Becher in blue ink and pencil on the verso BL, BR "Oberdielfen", "Nr. 73 / 1960"
[Zwirner & Wirth Gallery, New York]; Private Collection; [Tracy Williams Limited, New York]

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Modern Photographs from the Collection XII".

Related Objects

Zeche Hannover, Bochum-Hordel, Ruhrgebiet, Germany

Artist: Bernd and Hilla Becher (German, active 1959–2007) Date: 1973, printed 1989 or later Medium: Gelatin silver print Accession: 2011.67 On view in:Not on view

Arbeitslos

Artist: August Sander (German, 1876–1964) Date: 1928 Medium: Gelatin silver print Accession: 1991.1232 On view in:Not on view

Call

Artist: Otto Steinert (German, 1915–1978) Date: 1950 Medium: Gelatin silver print Accession: 1991.1056 On view in:Not on view

[Mystery of the Street]

Artist: Umbo (Otto Umbehr) (German, Düsseldorf 1902–1980 Hanover) Date: 1928 Medium: Gelatin silver print Accession: 1987.1100.49 On view in:Not on view

Untitled

Artist: Sigmar Polke (German, Olésnica (Oels) 1941–2010 Cologne) Date: 1975 Medium: Gelatin silver print Accession: 1992.5154 On view in:Not on view