(German, 1931–2007) and Hilla Becher
(German, b.1934) are best known for their photographs of industrial archetypes, such as water towers, pitheads, and coal bunkers. In the mid-1970s, they taught photography at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, in Germany, and their students, who adapted the style of the Bechers, became known as the Düsseldorf School of Photography. Bernd Becher was born in the Siegen and studied at the Academy of Art in Stuttgart and Düsseldorf. Hilla Becher, born in Potsdam in 1934, also studied at the Academy of Art in Düsseldorf and met Bernd while they were both studying painting.
The Bechers began working together in 1959 by photographing constructions related to industry and mining, some of which were on the verge of disappearance. Their photographs present these structures as landmarks that could be preserved as architectural heritage. The gelatin silver prints are usually grouped according to the type of structure and are arranged in grids on the gallery wall. Noted photographers such as Andreas Gursky
, Thomas Ruff
, Thomas Struth
, and Candida Höfer
have all been students of the Bechers. In 2004, the Bechers received the Hasselblad Award. Their work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Kunstverein Munich, and the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels, among other institutions. Hilla Becher currently lives and works in Düsseldorf.