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    Bernd Becher (German, 1931-2007) and Hilla Becher (German, 1934-2015)
    Blast Furnaces, Frontal Views (6 works), 1979-1989
    Gelatin silver
    Each 16-1/4 x 12 inches (41.3 x 30.5 cm)
    A sequence of 6 prints each numbered sequentially in pencil verso.


    Titles include: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, 1979; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, 1979; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, 1979; Schiker Verein, Gelsenkirchen, 1982; Lubeck-Herrenwyk, 1983; and, Heinrichshutte, Hattingen, 1989.

    Sonnabend Gallery, New York;
    Acquired by the present owner from the above, 2009.

    German couple and artist duo Bernd and Hilla Becher became as towering a force in postwar and contemporary photography as the massive and disappearing industrial architecture they photographed throughout Europe and North America for nearly five decades. In works like Blast Furnaces, they took a characteristically impassive view of their subjects, such as water towers, coal bunkers, lime kilns, silos, gas tanks and factories, which they always photographed unpopulated, in black and white, under gray skies. They often printed their photos in large format, as in the present work, or in book formats; both approaches allow comparisons of structural form.
    They might be seen as upholders of the taxonomic tradition of the German photographer August Sander, who aimed to document all of his country's professions; in turn, they influenced minimalist and conceptual artists like Ed Ruscha and Carl Andre, as well as a generation of German photographers who were their students at D├╝sseldorf's Kunstakademie, including Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth.
    But as cerebral and arid as they might seem, perceptive viewers have picked up on the works' emotional resonance. Writing in the Guardian, Sean O'Hagan wrote that he was "struck ... by the underlying sense of loss and melancholy that emanates from these photographs: you are looking at a lost world, however soul-destroying that world was for those who had to live and work in it." In fact, Bernd once said that, having grown up in Germany's industrial Ruhr region, he "was overcome with horror when I noticed that the world in which I was besotted was disappearing."
    The pair met at the Kunstakademie in 1957 and began to work together shortly thereafter. Hilla drew on her experience as a commercial photographer, while Bernd had gone to school for painting and typography. The pair began to show with galleries as early as 1963, and with institutions as early as 1974. They participated in four Documenta exhibitions as well as other major international shows, and, at the Venice Biennale in 1991, they won the Golden Lion for sculpture; in fact, they had earlier referred to the subject of their photographs as "anonymous sculpture." Institutions including Paris's Centre Georges Pompidou and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, have organized retrospectives of the duo's work.

    Condition Report*: Ferrotyped prints on Agfa paper. In overall excellent condition. A few very minor ferrotyping surface imperfection visible in racking light.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2020
    6th Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,719

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