Bernd and Hilla Becher




Bernhard “Bernd” and Hilla Becher were German conceptual artists and photographers. They are celebrated for their extensive documentation of Western industrial architecture. Together they photographed several water towers, gas tanks, factory facades and cooling towers across Europe and the United States.

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Early Life

Bernd Becher was born on August 20, 1931 in Siegen, Germany and Hilla Wobeser was born on September 2, 1934 in Potsdam, Germany. They met as students at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where Bernd then later taught. They began working together in 1959 and married in 1961.

Photographic Significance

The Bechers are arguably the most influential photographers in European post-war art history because of their influence on the development of particular artistic movements such as Minimalism and Conceptualism. They have been credited as being the founders of the “Düsseldorf School”, which includes notable artists Andreas Gursky, Thomas Struth, and Candida Höfer.

Their photographs of industrial buildings presented their subjects in an objective way; the Bechers would set up their large format camera front-on to the buildings, allowing them to capture the full form of the structure. Repeating this technique with every image, the Becher’s archive of closely cropped photographs provide a topographical record of industrial buildings of the twentieth-century. Their images serve as visual case studies of a disappearing architecture.

Later Life

Bernd died on June 22, 2007 in Rostock, Germany and Hilla died on October 15, 2015 in Düsseldorf, Germany. Their work has influenced several generations of documentary photographers and artists. Today, their works are included in many collections worldwide including the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and Tate Modern in London.


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