For over forty years, German artists Bernd and Hilla Becher have photographed water towers, blast furnaces, silos, cooling towers, gas tanks, grain elevators, oil refineries, and the like—all examples of the European and American industrial architecture that has begun to disappear in the transition from an industrial to an information society. Their works typically present each structure frontally against flat, evenly gray backgrounds. By using large–format cameras and finely grained black-and-white film, they ensure that the motifs they photograph are rendered with a high degree of precision and clarity.
The Bechers organize the images into groupings assembled in a grid, classified by function into types. In this strict layout, each structure may easily be compared with the others. The nine separate pictures in Water Towers together transform the specificity of the individual towers into a variation on an ideal form and, conversely, preserve their individual characteristics within a typology.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, p. 75.