German, active 1959-2007
Bernd and Hilla Becher were fascinated by industrial architecture and began traveling North America and Europe to photograph cooling towers, grain elevators, and blast furnaces in 1957. They usually arranged their photographs in grids governed by typology: buildings that looked quite different but nonetheless served the same function. Their straightforward photographs treated industrial architecture—much of it dating to the rise of industry in the nineteenth century—as a form of sculpture. Indeed, the Bechers were awarded the Golden Lion for sculpture at the 1990 Venice Biennale in recognition of their photographs. The defining power of such regimented architecture on the lives of the workers within these structures—in this case a grain elevator in Buffalo—is an underlying subject of the Bechers’ work.
Label from Overtime: The Art of Work, March 8–May 17, 2015