Watertowers, 1967–80; printed 1980
Hilla Becher (German, born 1934); Bernd Becher (German, 1931–2007)
Gelatin silver prints; overall 101 3/8 x 32 1/4 in. (257.5 x 82 cm)
Warner Communications Inc. Purchase Fund, 1980 (1980.1074.1–.16)
Courtesy of Sonnabend Gallery
As artists and professors at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, the husband-and-wife team of Bernd and Hilla Becher have influenced an entire generation of German photographers with their typological approach to the medium in which a single archetypal subject is described through an accumulation of diverse examples. For more than three decades, they have systematically examined the dilapidated industrial architecture of Europe and North America, from water towers and blast furnaces to the surrounding workers' houses, all recorded against a blank sky and without expressive effects. As it developed in the 1960s, the Bechers' project chimed with Conceptual Art in its emphasis on impersonal series as well as with older traditions of objective photography as practiced by such artists as August Sander and Karl Blossfeldt.