Bernd and Hilla Becher

At the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard Univer­sity.

(Orig­i­nally published in The Boston Phoenix, December 1991)

Bernd and Hilla Becher have worked together for more than 30 years, photographing blast furnaces, water towers, power stations, and other indus­trial struc­tures, which they call “anony­mous sculp­ture.

Peter Nisbet, curator of Harvard’s Busch-Reisinger Museum, commented:

It’s the Indus­trial Picturesque. No — it’s the Indus­trial Sublime.

The Bechers’ clear, cool, black-and-white pictures do indeed make these indus­trial struc­tures look like found modernist sculp­ture.

And last year, their photographs finally won First Prize in the Sculp­ture cate­gory at the Venice Bien­nale.

(Post­script: I thought of this show again when I first read W.G. Sebald’s books — myste­rious, elusive, and strangely moving.)

by Rebecca Nemser for

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