Bernd and Hilla Becher - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 12, 2022 | Phillips

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  • "And because these types of purpose-built structures can't be preserved forever, we wanted to at least hold them fast in pictures, and so we began to collect them."
    —Hilla Becher

    • Provenance

      Sonnabend Gallery, New York
      Private Collection
      Bonhams, London, Modern and Contemporary Art, 27 June 2019, lot 58

    • Exhibited

      A major retrospective of Bernd and Hilla Becher's work is currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York until 6 November 2022.

    • Literature

      Becher, Bernd and Hilla, Water Towers, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1998, pl. 66, Oberhausen, D, 1967 (variant)

    • Artist Biography

      Bernd and Hilla Becher

      German • Bernd 1931-2007 - Hilla 1934-2015

      Husband and wife Bernd and Hilla Becher began photographing buildings and relics of the Industrial Revolution, such as coal mines and cooling towers, in 1959. Like objective scientists removing a specimen from the field, the Bechers framed their subject in a manner that isolated it from its environment. Often, these stark, beautifully detailed prints were then displayed in grid-like structures, forming stunning 'Typologies'.

      By the time Bernd Becher became a professor at the Düsseldorf Art Academy in 1976 (policy would not allow Hilla to be a simultaneous appointment), the Bechers' photographs, with their seemingly neutral point of view and serial display, were already being applauded by the international art world as important works of Minimal and Conceptual Art.

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Water Tower, Oberhausen/Ruhr, Germany

Gelatin silver print, printed circa 1989.
23 7/8 x 19 1/4 in. (60.6 x 48.9 cm)
Signed by both artists, titled, dated and numbered 3/5 in pencil on the verso.

Full Cataloguing

$15,000 - 25,000 

Sold for $16,380

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs, New York

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 12 October 2022