Monday, October 29, 2007

Bernd and Hilla Becher in Wales

Bernd and Hilla Becher were photographic artists famous for their industrial photography. Their pictures function on many levels. They can be viewed simply as an historical record of industrial architecture. Or, to borrow their own phrase, they can be seen as anonyme skulpturen (anonymous sculptures).

These industrial photographs work particularly well in series. Somehow they reflect the mass production process of which the chosen buildings are often an essential part. They are also anti-picturesque, systematic, almost puritan. Sometimes they resemble pure abstract art in their lack of a human dimension.

The Dusseldorf-based married couple travelled the world (until Bernd's recent death) snapping blast furnaces, pithead gears, gas works, grain silos etc. In 1966 they were in Wales where they photographed this cooling tower in Ebbw Vale (see pic). They also did studies of industrial edifices at Glynneath, Cardiff, Caerphilly, Bargoed, Pontypridd, Pontypool, Llantwit Fadre, Mountain Ash, Treherbert, Cwmdare, Aberavon, Treorchy, Tonypandy, Treharris, Tylorstown, Penrhiwceiber, Hirwaun, Caerau, Llanhilleth, Cymmer, Blaenavon, Blaenrhondda, Crumlin, Bedwellty, Gilfach Goch and a few other places.

It would be good at some point to see an exhibition of all their Welsh work here in Wales.