Bernd and Hilla Becher: Typologies of Industrial Buildings

26.08.2005 to 08.01.2006

Hamburger Bahnhof – Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart
Hamburger Bahnhof – Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart

In cooperation with the K20K21 art collection Nordrhein-Westfalen Düsseldorf

Since the 1970s, the photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher from Düsseldorf can be counted among the most important artists in Germany. The typologies of industrial buildings, photographs taken according to exactly defined guidelines over the course of forty years, represent the core of their photographic oeuvre. The structures - testimonies of industrial development, many of them today destroyed - are recorded methodically, documented soberly yet precisely in black and white photography. Arranged in typological tableaus, the photographs invite a comparative contemplation.

Aside from its vital documentary and analytical qualities, the Becher's long-term project has also had a considerable impact on Minimalism and Concept Art since the 1970s. This can be attributed to the way the architecture is consistently and austerely placed against a neutral grey sky, thus detached from its functional context, to the monumental effect achieved through the buildings' isolation, as well as to grid-effect of the typological presentation. The exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof presents blast furnaces, winding towers, water towers, cooling towers, gas tanks and coal bunkers in all their diversity.