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Becher School

Art academy

1976 in Düsseldorf


The artistic activities of Hilla and Bernd Becher influenced an entire generation of young photographers. The Bechers both studied at the Düsseldorfer Kunstakademie, and their work combines the principle of formal, strict composition with an interest in industrial architecture. They dispense with all narrative details in order to concentrate their attention on the similarities and differences between the objects they photograph. Because of their consistent use of the serial principle, during the 1970s their works were classified as Conceptual Art. A photography class was established in 1976 at the Düsseldorf Academy under the guidance of Bernd Becher, with the constant collaboration of his wife. It was here that their students – Candida Höfer, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth, Andreas Gursky and many others – developed their own independent pictorial language. In spite of the differences between their works they demonstrated a common interest in the photographic archive, as well as in the questioning of seeing itself. Similarly, their works explore the boundaries between documentary photography and art. While Höfer focuses on the design and order of public interiors, Struth studies places and the way people act in them. Ruff is also interested in geographic spaces; he defamiliarises them by means of night vision devices and reveals their hidden effects. The expression “Becher School” can be traced back to the title of an exhibition by (former) students of Bernd and Hilla Becher in the Galerie Johnen & Schöttle in Cologne in 1988. Subsequently the term established itself on the art market in particular.

Persons belonging to Becher School

Works associated with Becher School