The Becher school art movement is a unique and influential style of photography founded by Bernd and Hilla Becher in the late 1950s in Germany. The Becher school is often described as a photographic ‘school’, but it is more accurately thought of as a photographic style. It involves the systematic documentation of everyday industrial architecture and the use of large-format cameras to produce black and white prints. The Becher school style is characterized by a sense of objectivity, with a focus on documenting the subject matter in its most basic form. It is also characterized by a ‘deadpan’ aesthetic, with the images appearing to be emotionless and lacking any sense of personal interpretation.
The Bechers’ work was initially inspired by the German New Objectivity movement that emerged in the 1920s, which sought to create images that were objective and devoid of personal emotion. The Bechers’ goal was to create a photographic archive of industrial structures that depicted the structures in their most basic form, with no attempt to make them appear aesthetically pleasing. The couple’s use of black and white photography further reinforced this sense of objectivity.
The Bechers’ work had a significant impact on the field of photography, particularly in Europe. It was influential in the development of the ‘New Topographics’ movement, which sought to document the changing landscape of cities and industrial sites. The Bechers’ work also encouraged photographers to take a more objective and minimalistic approach to their work.
The Becher school movement also had an influence on the German art world. The Bechers’ use of objective documentary photography had a strong influence on the German art movement of the 1960s and 1970s, known as ‘Conceptual Art’. This movement focused on creating art that was more conceptual than visual, and the Bechers’ photographs provided a model for this type of art.
The Becher school movement has been influential in the development of the field of photography and has had a lasting impact on the way photographers approach their work. The Bechers’ work provided a model for a more objective and minimalistic approach to photography, and their influence can still be seen in the work of many contemporary photographers.