Bern and Hilla Becher
The importance of the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher has to do not only with their artistic activity but most of all with their teaching at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf. Bernd (Siegen,1931) and Hilla (Postdam, 1934 – 2015) Becher met when they were students of painting in Düsseldorf. In 1959 they did their first photographic work together. As teachers, they have influenced the new generations of German artists, including some of the outstanding names who have redefined photographic creation, such as Thomas Ruff, Andreas Gursky, Candida Höffer or Thomas Struth.
Bernd and Hilla Becher’s photographs document industrial landscapes which are in the process of disappearing through deserted factories, water towers or gasometers, which are shown in isolation. They base their work on typologies and approach the different motifs almost like a clinical dissection, which finds its closest antecedent in the anthropological documentations made during the period of the Weimar Republic by August Sander. With their photographs the Bechers show a past which, unlike the present, they can control and order through their compositions. These works, which they have been doing since the fifties, have been regarded as the supreme model of conceptual art in photography.
Their work has been shown at Documenta 5 (1972), 6 (1977) and 11 (2002), as well as the São Paulo Biennial (1977). They have received many awards, among them the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1990.