Bernd and Hilla Becher - Evening & Day Editions London Wednesday, January 17, 2024 | Phillips
  • “We photographed water towers and furnaces because they are honest. They are functional, and they reflect what they do - that is what we liked. A person always is what s/he wants to be, never what s/he is.”
    —Bernd and Hilla Becher 
    Applying rigid aesthetic parameters to create visual order and simplicity, the Bechers’ black and white photographs of industrial structures explores the mechanical, man-made and modern. The photographed constructions are gathered into typologies, as displayed in the present lot. Each typology was captured over several years, but always with the same straight-on perspective and under the same overcast weather conditions. Exposing each structure’s shared and individual attributes, the periodic categorisation of the artists’ photography is almost scientific in essence. The Bechers’ rigorous approach offers an unbiased and unfettered portrait of the industrial age, presented in the artists’ specified mode of classification. 

    “In the early 1990s the Bechers visited our gallery and asked if I was interested in handling their editions. I was pleased to do this and we started with a little show of the prints they owned as their proofs collection. They were curious to see what kind of printing techniques we could offer other than the somewhat pale offset prints of the past. We spent time together at their studio in Düsseldorf Kaiserswerth to decide which and how many individual prints we could put together to different configurations of “typologies”. We accomplished 7 typologies... [which are] still among the most important of their prints.”
    —Jörg Schellmann 

    • Provenance

      Personal copy of the publisher and part of the Archive of Edition Schellmann since time of publication

    • Literature

      Jörg Schellmann, ed., Forty Are Better Than One, Munich/New York, 2009, p. 23
      ars publicata, Bernd & Hilla Becher Editions, 2006.03

    • 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.

      View More Works

Works from the Archive of Edition Schellmann to benefit the Ars Publicata Project


Kies- und Schotterwerke (Gravel Plants)

Digital pigment print (Ditone), on Hahnemühle Baryta paper, with full margins.
I. 70.2 x 93.3 cm (27 5/8 x 36 3/4 in.)
S. 90 x 112.5 cm (35 3/8 x 44 1/4 in.)

Signed and numbered 18/40 in pencil on the reverse (there were also 8 artist's proofs), published by Edition Schellmann, Munich and New York, unframed.

Full Cataloguing

£2,000 - 3,000 ‡♠

Sold for £4,064

Contact Specialist

Because of technical difficulties our sale is delayed. We should resume soon. Sorry for the inconvenience.
+44 20 7318 4024

Rebecca Tooby-Desmond
Specialist, Head of Sale, Editions

Robert Kennan
Head of Editions, Europe

Anne Schneider-Wilson
Senior International Specialist, Editions

Louisa Earl
Associate Specialist, Editions

Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 17 - 18 January 2024