|About the Book|
Typological, repetitive, at times oddly humorous, Bernd and Hilla Bechers photographs of industrial structures are, in their cumulative effect, profoundly moving. The Bechers serenely cool, disarmingly objective, and notoriously obsessive images ofMoreTypological, repetitive, at times oddly humorous, Bernd and Hilla Bechers photographs of industrial structures are, in their cumulative effect, profoundly moving. The Bechers serenely cool, disarmingly objective, and notoriously obsessive images of watertowers, gas tanks, grain elevators, blast furnaces, and mine heads have been taken over a period of almost thirty years, under overcast skies, with a view camera that captures each detail and tonality of wood, concrete, brick, and steel.Blast Furnaces represents a continuation of, but also a counterpoint to the Bechers earlier book Watertowers. There basic functional elements were hidden or clothed in disguises, whereas the 256 duotone prints included here record a purely functional and exposed architecture, built to contain heat, pressure, and accumulations of gases and unhindered by any outside constraints.The blast furnace is the symbol of the steel industry. Like other building types which attract the Bechers, it is also an endangered industrial species. Essentially giant, cone-shaped circular stoves, blast furnaces dominate the cityscapes of Pittsburgh, Youngstown, and Birmingham much as religious structures dominated medieval cities. These photographs, taken between 1961 and 1989, convey the unique characteristics, physical complexity, and eerie presence in the landscape of blast furnaces in Great Britain, Belgium, France, Austria, Germany, and the United States.Bernd and Hilla Becher teach at the Dusseldorf Art Academy. They began their collaborative photographic enterprise in 1957, when they did a study of workers houses in their native Germany. The Bechers follow in a distinguished line of German photographers that includes August Sander, Albert Renger-Patzsch, and Werner Manz, all of whom contributed in different ways to the definition of objective photography. A selection of their photographs is on view throughout 1990 at the Dia Art Foundation galleries in New York, and they will represent Germany in the 1990 Venice Biennale.