A Look at the Collection:
Bernd & Hilla Becher – Framework Houses in Siegen's Industrial Region
An Exhibition by Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur
Bernd and Hilla Becher (1931–2007, 1934–2015) began taking photographs of framework houses in Siegen’s industrial region early on in their artistic career. Produced between 1958 and 1974, this body of work proved the value of the consistent depiction of a type of object in so-called typologies. Analysis and synthesis were not to be accomplished solely in a precise individual image but in the quasi-scientific grouping of the photographs as well.
Bernd and Hilla Becher published their first book on the subject in 1977, which would be followed by further monographically arranged books on individual industrial building types. In the book on framework houses one learns that this typical form of post construction (Ständerfachwerk) had begun developing in the late nineteenth century in the Siegerland, one of the oldest ore mining regions. Plain and assembled out of individual prefabricated elements, this is a markedly economical, rationalized construction method. For the Bechers, this form of building houses reflected the industrial design principle of “form follows function” in an individual way.
The homes inspired the artist couple to create uniquely clear views that they converted into a new visual aesthetic and grammar. At the same time, they documented Siegen’s industrial and cultural history. Their framework house typologies were exhibited at documenta 11 in 2002. They were furthermore presented in Siegen several times and in Cologne as early as 2006, during the lifetime of Bernd and Hilla Becher. The works are now being shown again based on their installation concept.
In 2004 the Kunststiftung NRW sponsored the purchase of 15 typologies by Bernd and Hilla Becher on the subject of the framework houses in Siegen’s industrial region, thereby securing the body of work for the shared collection of the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen and Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur. Thus it is now linked with further important works by Bernd and Hilla Becher in Cologne.