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Bernd & Hilla Becher at Museo Morandi

Museo Morandi
24 January - 3 May 2009

Bernd and Hilla Becher are counted among some of the most prominent exponents of conceptual art. Their work has influenced many German photographers of recent generations who have taken it as a model for their own work. Many of these were pupils of the so-called “Becher Schule” at the Dusseldorf Academy.

From 1959 onwards, the couple began extensive and meticulous photographic documentation of buildings known today as industrial archaeology, classifying them into Typologies. Initially their research focused on the industrial area of Siegen and the Ruhr and later moved across the German border, extending towards France, Belgium, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, the UK and the USA, leading to the systematic cataloguing of functionalist architecture and its many variations.

The Bechers’ images are striking in their extreme rigour: the shots are strictly front on, with the architectural structure placed centrally, as if suspended in time; the persistent use of black and white images over the years lends a sense of continuity to the artistic project and allows the sculpturesque qualities of the subjects to emerge; the industrial structures are completely devoid of environmental detail or human presence, photographed from an objective perspective that exalts their monumentality as well as their aesthetic and functional autonomy, encouraging the observer to enquire into the abstract nature of forms.

On display in the main rooms of the museum, at the very heart of the exhibition, Bernd and Hilla Becher’s photographs establish a comparison with Morandi’s work that is of great interest.