PRINT January 2016


Hilla Becher

Hilla Becher, untitled study, ca. 1960, gelatin silver print.

THE NEWS reached me in Mexico while I was taking photographs. It came as a great shock to me. I needed a break; later, I did find some comfort in continuing to take photographs. I had last seen Hilla just a week before I left Cologne. I found her in very good spirits. We embraced and planned to see each other again after my return.

She had always followed what I was doing with a relaxed, unstrained continuity. Relaxed and unstrained are also the key words for Hilla’s and Bernd’s respective approaches to teaching, as different as they were from each other. Everything was about experiencing art as such, not just photography, and exchanging our impressions and experiences. Hilla had been more patient—she could make complicated matters simple, and explain them very clearly—and she had a fine sense of humor, which my slow wit took its own time to decode.

I always had the feeling that they were proud of us, although this pride never implied that their own doings had any part in our achievements. They had accepted me to their class even though my work at that time—a projection about Turkish people living in Germany—was so different from their own. Whatever I tried and did with photography after that, I received steady encouragement from them; this continued when I moved to color and started experimenting with sizes and, lately, with forms. This feeling of a continuing bond remains.

Candida Höfer is an artist based in Cologne.