The subject of industrial architecture inspired the work of husband and wife artists Bernd and Hilla Becher. Their goal was to document structures that were disappearing in the West due to the slowdown of the manufacturing sector. The Becher’s photographed the same types of structures at different sites and established categories such as water towers, blast furnaces, and gas tanks, among others. They adhered to a strict formal aesthetic in each photograph; the subject is viewed from the front, photographed against a neutral gray sky with a consistent horizon line and similar vantage point. Multiple images were then presented in a serial format or grid. Together, the photographs reveal the distinct character of each architectural form. Although the artists reused images, each grid or typology was made unique through their combination and sequence of the photographs. Hilla Becher assembled this typology from their archive and especially for the DIA’s collection.
From Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 89 (2015)