Bernd and Hilla Becher
German duo-photographers and married couple are known for their school of architectural photography, which formed around the time they taught at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. They founded the ‘Becher school’ of photography in the 1950s that influenced generations of documentary photographers and artists.
The Bechers; Bernd Becher (1931 – 2007) and Hilla Becher (born Hilla Wobeser, 1934-2015), first achieved renown for a black-and-white photo series that focused on industrial buildings around Europe and North America, and which followed a strict and recurrent protocol - to address the effect of industry on the economy and the environment. Rather than attempting to invent or renew a given artistic process, their point of departure was their passionate interest in the disappearing vestiges of industrial culture. The Bechers called the subjects of their photographs ‘anonymous sculptures’, and in 1990, they received an award at the Venice Bienalle, not for photography, but for sculpture, due to their ability to illustrate the sculptural properties of architecture.
They are considered the precursors of a school of architectural photography that formed around the time the couple started teaching at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art (Kunstakademie Düsseldorf). World-famous artists such as Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff, and Candida Höfer are part of this artistic movement (known as the Düsseldorf school of photography).
"We photographed water towers and furnaces because they are honest. They are functional, and they reflect what they do - that is what we liked. A person always is what s/he wants to be, never what s/he is. Even an animals usually plays a role in front of the camera."—Hilla Becher
Their work is usually exhibited in sets or typologies, grouping of several photographs of the same type of structure. They are well known for presenting their images in grid formations.