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MIT Press, 1997 - Photography - 190 pages
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Since 1959 Bernd and Hilla Becher have been obsessively photographing imperiled industrial structures such as pit-head frames, water towers, blast furnaces, cooling towers, gas tanks, and silos. As documenters of the industrial era in Europe and the United States—an era now drawing to a close—they are not only photographers, but "industrial archaeologists," salvaging testimonies of past developments in the form of "readable" documents for posterity. At the same time, the Bechers could also be called conceptual artists, as their photographs reveal the meaning and transformative character of structure.

The Bechers spent two decades searching industrial regions of Western Europe and North America for mineheads. These delicate giants stand over the shaft entrances of mines, housing the cages attached to cables that move up and down the mine shaft, bringing minerals to the surface and transferring miners back and forth from underground.

Regardless of their subject, the Bechers' photographic technique has remained constant for decades. Eschewing dramatic lighting effects, they shoot under overcast skies, framing their subject in the center of the picture and shooting from a slightly raised standpoint. The effect of their cool, rigorous approach is to reduce the individual structures they photograph within each typological category to morphological studies executed with artful neutrality. Their single-minded vision, signature style, and photographic identity have influenced an entire generation of younger photographers and have had a major impact on the worlds of conceptual art, architecture, sculpture, and criticism.

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About the author (1997)

Bernd and Hilla Becher have collaborated since 1959. Founders of the internationally acclaimed Becher class at the Dusseldorf Art Academy, they have received numerous awards, including the Golden Lion at the 1990 Venice Biennale and the 2002 Erasmus Award. Bernd Becher retired as Professor at the Dusseldorf Academy of Art in 1999.

Bernd (1931-2007) and Hilla Becher, born in Postdam, Germany, in 1934, collaborated since 1959. Founders of the internationally acclaimed Becher class at the Dusseldorf Art Academy, they received numerous awards for their photographs of industrial buildings, such as the Golden Lion at 1990 Venice Biennial, and the 2002 Erasmus Prize.

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