Blast furnaces, water and winding towers: conceptual images of industrial structures were known as the centre of Hilla Becher's work. Together with her husband Bernd Becher (1931–2007) she founded the influential Becher school of photography. Working in sober black and white, the couple achieved world-wide acclaim for their typological studies of industrial architecture. Their life's work was honoured with a multitude of distinguished awards including the Golden Lion for Sculpture at the 44th Biennial in Venice (1990), the Erasmus Award (2002), and the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography (2004). Only last year, Hilla Becher accepted the Großer Rheinischer Kulturpreis in Dusseldorf.
"She was an accomplished photographer and a fantastic woman," says
Gabriele Conrath-Scholl, director of the Photography Collection/SK Cultural Foundation. Hilla Becher maintained a close connection with the organisation for the past twenty years. In 1995 the Photography Collection/SK Cultural Foundation began a collaboration with her and her husband, Bernd Becher (who passed away in 2007) to secure and overhaul a significant portion of the Becher archives. The results of this collaboration have since been presented in numerous exhibitions and publications.
"We knew and appreciated Bernd and Hilla Becher as outstanding personalities and artists, who will continue to be a great inspiration. They have significantly contributed to the formation and vision of our organisation," explains Gabriele Conrath-Scholl. In reference to Hilla Becher she says, "Her uniquely clear and logical perception, her intuitive certainty, her open attentiveness and her ever-positive, life-affirming nature will be sorely missed."
Highly Aesthetic Industrial Photography
Hilla Becher leaves behind an extensive body of work, compiled together with her husband over the course of fifty prolific years. With their images, they managed to draw our attention to the extraordinary aesthetics of industrial architecture. Bernd and Hilla Becher, who entertained as little vanity regarding the chronology of their names as they did in their approach to life, were the reason that documentary photography gained international acclaim as an artistic form of expression. Their so-called typologies – grids of photographs showing variants of a structure – are represented in high-ranking collections and museums around the world. Their legacy also includes a great number of monographs, and a sheer endless list of solo and group exhibitions.
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