new-york

Bernd and Hilla Becher, Coal Bunker: Zeche Hannibal, Bochum, D. 1973, 2012, eight framed gelatin silver prints, overall 37 1/4 x 75 1/2".

Bernd and Hilla Becher

Sonnabend Gallery

Bernd and Hilla Becher, Coal Bunker: Zeche Hannibal, Bochum, D. 1973, 2012, eight framed gelatin silver prints, overall 37 1/4 x 75 1/2".

The photographic enterprise of Bernd and Hilla Becher is by now as seemingly archetypal as the structures it documents. Recording, over several decades, a range of building “typologies” around the globe—from water towers to grain elevators—their images offer up a kind of anonymous, parallel history of the industrial edifice. The same inexorably milky sky frames each structure, and atmospheric indicators are so minimal as to compel concentration upon the objects themselves. This is not to say that the eye isn’t tempted by minutiae—the erratic arc of tire tracks, cement planters bearing shrubs, and parked cars that suggest a distinctly human absence.

Seized by the Bechers’ camera, each tight-lipped facade offers up only the occasional, elliptical detail—whether inbuilt to its architecture or conferred by the vicissitudes of its use. On an industrial structure from

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the December 2012 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.