The work of the photographic duo Bernd and Hilla Becher is indisputably some of the most important in modern photography. This week, a two-part exhibit at Paris Photo highlights the historical significance of the Bechers, most well known for their “typologies”—uniform, photographic studies of industrial structures such as water towers and blast furnaces.
The first part of the show, Bernd and Hilla Becher—Printed materials 1964-2012, features an extensive collection of rare ephemera related to the Bechers’ work. These objects, including posters, invitations and museum catalogues, were amassed by curator and book dealer Antoine de Beaupré for more than ten years.
“You get an historical overview,” said Beaupré. “and also an evolution of how their work developed over the years, especially in the beginning.”
One highlight of the collection is the magazine Anonyme Skulpturen which was printed in 1969 to accompany an exhibition of the Bechers’ work in Düsseldorf. This work would become a monograph of the same name, published in 1970, which is also featured in the Paris show.
The printed objects collected by Beupré represent the Bechers’ work from 1964 to 1977, while a presentation of their monographs, mounted under plexiglass and affixed to the gallery walls, span from 1970 to the present day.
The second section of the Paris show features a selection of 117 photographs chosen by Hilla Becher (Bernd Becher passed away in 2007) from the 1977 book Zeche Zollern II – Photographs of Bernd & Hilla Becher. Together, these prints, objects and publications are a comprehensive tribute to the Bechers’ long and prolific photographic career.
Antoine de Beaupré is a curator and the founder of the Librairie 213 in Paris.
Bernd and Hilla Becher—Printed materials 1964-2012 is on display at Paris Photo from Nov. 15 to 18.