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Hilla Becher

Bernd and Hilla Becher, Gas Tanks, 1983–1992 (detail), 2005, fifteen gelatin silver prints, overall 68 1/4 × 94 1/4".

WITH THE PASSING of Hilla Becher (née Hilla Wobeser in Potsdam, 1934), a major figure of German postwar visual culture has left the stage, following her lifelong collaborator and partner, Bernd Becher, who passed away in 2007.

If their individual contributions to the joint oeuvre have by now become inextricably fused, it was Hilla, in fact, who steered Bernd to the field of photography. Hilla had been trained first as a photographer in Potsdam, while Bernd had studied typographic design and painting in Stuttgart, before both enrolled at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf (he in 1957, she in 1958), inaugurating their fifty years of collaboration. It might also be noted that Hilla had spent her adolescence under the socialist regime of the German Democratic Republic, just like some of the Bechers’ future friends and artistic peers in Düsseldorf: the painters Blinky Palermo, Sigmar Polke,

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