Bernd and Hilla Becher

Biography of Bernd and Hilla Becher

Bernd Becher (born 1931 in Siegen, DE; died 2007) and Hilla Becher (born 1934 in Potsdam, DE; died 2015) were a German husband and wife artistic duo who lived and worked in Düsseldorf. As artists they were renowned for their images of Germany's forbidding water towers, blast furnaces, monolithic coalbunkers and industrial facades. Throughout their career they focused on architectural portraiture, photographing a range of industrial, and domestic structures, as well as producing lithographs and paintings. These industrial buildings, described by the artists as "anonymous sculptures", appear dormant and isolated without their workers.


Bernd and Hilla Becher's process is documentary in nature and their approach was rigorous. The buildings are monuments in and of themselves, and at the same time symbols of functionality, exploring the relationship between form and function. In typological series, constructions or devices with the same functions and comparable structures are analyzed, always under the same, objective, shooting circumstances, in absolute abstention from an expressive treatment. They are viewed as "one of the most dominant influences in contemporary European photography and art." Moreover, they were directly influential also through their teaching roles at Düsseldorf's Kunstakademie, where former pupils included Thomas Ruff, Candida Höfer and Andreas Gursky.

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