Bernd Becher, Hilla Becher. Water Towers. 1988

Bernd Becher, Hilla Becher

Water Towers


Gelatin silver prints
67 11/16 x 55 1/8" (172 x 140cm)
Gift of Werner and Elaine Dannheisser
Object number
© 2018 Hilla Becher
This work is not on view.
Bernd Becher has 15 works  online.
Hilla Becher has 15 works  online.
There are 15,314 photographs online.

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

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA's collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

If you would like to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA, please contact Scala Archives (all geographic locations) at

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or, please email If you would like to publish text from MoMA's archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to