The German conceptual photographer Hilla Becher – along with her husband Bernd – influenced a whole generation of photographers and artists. Becher who was best known for her work with her Bernd, died on 10 October, at the age of was 81.
The Bechers were best known for their black-and-white photographs of industrial architecture, taken form an ‘objective’ standpoint; the Bechers believed that images that were photographed objectively were more truthful. In 1990, they were awarded the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the Venice Biennale.
Hilla Wobeser met Bernd Becher in 1957 at the Staatliche Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf, where both were studying painting, later in1959 the duo changed focus and began to take photographs documenting German industrial architecture. The couple were married in 1967. Hilla continued photography on her own in recent years, after her husband’s death. Their work is included in numerous public collections, including the Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, both in New York; with images of factories, water towers, storage silos and warehouses in Germany and later throughout the world.
Their work appeared at Documenta 5 in 1972. Bernd later taught at the Düsseldorf Art Academy from 1976 and 1996, where the photographer’s students included Candida Höfer. He died in 2007.
Becher influenced artists such as Thomas Struth and Andreas Gursky, as well as many others who studied under Bernd’s leadership at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf art academy. “Hilla Becher was a remarkably incorruptible person,” Struth told TIME. “I loved her uncompromising but open-minded and gentle attitude, always curious, not sentimental but loving. Her death is a big loss.”