Bernd Becher dies at 75
Bernd Becher, known with wife Hilla for their exhaustive documentation of industrial structures in Germany, such as grain elevators, that spans several decades, has died following heart surgery. He and wife Hilla have played a major role in the field German photography and fine art photography in general over the last 40 years, through their work both as photographers and teachers. So many of their former students have become well-known in contemporary photography in their own right (Andreas Gursky, Candida Hofer, the Thomases Ruff and Struth), that the term “Becher School” was coined to describe them, which arguably also includes those on whom they’ve had a visible effect stylistically or formally, but who weren’t technically their students.
Part of the Bechers’ innovation artistically is in the systematic but, in a way, regal treatment they gave to such mundane subject matter. There is an interesting play between their coldly scientific documentary approach, and the ennobling effect of their gridded, candid compositions, which raises the vernacular industrial buildings, an architecture of pure practicality, to iconic status.
Link to obit in NYT here