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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