Author(s): Thierry De Duve
An elegant new edition of Bernd and Hilla Becher's classic black-and-white photographic study of industrial buildings. During their 40-year career, Bernd and Hilla Becher created their own architectural typology as they photographed buildings in a unique style. Basic Forms represents the culmination of their career. Although the subject matter is unglamorous--mine shafts, blast furnaces, cooling towers, water towers, silos, and gas tanks--the Bechers' passion for their work imbues these photographs with beauty and solemnity. The Bechers restricted the conditions of each photograph--taking them early in the morning, on overcast days, so as to eliminate shadow and distribute light evenly. Each image is centered and frontally framed, its parallel lines set on an even plane. There are no human figures, nor are there birds in the sky. The result is a treasury of precisely functional architectural forms, a sublime example of conceptual artistic practices, and a series of "perfect sculptures of a bygone industrial age."