Bernd and Hiller Becher : Industrial Visions

Many thanks to my friend Carol I checked out an exhibition on currently at the National Museum of Wales. She told me that there was an exhibition of industrial buildings on there, and that she reckoned it was my kind of thing. I was absolutely blown away! I only had 10 minutes, and had to skip the August Sander exhibition in the neighbouring gallery, but I am hooked, and will go back when I have more time. The information below is nicked from the exhibition blurb (and liberally paraphrased).

Bernd and Hilla Becher: Industrial Visions

From the late 1950s the Bechers began their project recording industrial buildings that were rapidly disappearing in the post-war decline of heavy industry. The project took them a lifetime to complete.

They began with the coal and steel industries in the Ruhr and Siegen regions of Germany before branching out in other parts of Europe and, later, North America. They travelled to Wales in 1965, and in 1966 spent six months in Britain, or which two thirds concentrated on Welsh collieries in the South Wales Valleys.

Their work, 225 photos arranged in grids according to the type of structure, include blast furnaces, water towers, winding towers, gasometers, cooling towers, washers, grain silos and lime kilns. 

In the mid ‘60s their work was referred to as industrial archaeology. However after their book Anonymous Sculptures. A typography of technical constructions (1970) their work began to be positioned within the global art network. 

In the neighbouring gallery there is an exhibition of portraits by August Sander who in the 1920s was seen to be embodying what was described as the ‘New Objectivity’ (Neue Sachlichkeit). His monumental series People of the 20th Century was a major influence for the Bechers.

Both exhibitions are on until 1st March 2020

One thought on “Bernd and Hiller Becher : Industrial Visions

  1. Glad you have seen this now Jenny – I went back for the third time last week and tried to draw some of them. Not very successfully, but fascinating to look so long and hard at the structures.


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