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Photograph - Silo for coal, Big Pit Colliery South Wales
  • Silo for coal, Big Pit Colliery South Wales
    Becher, Bernhard, born 1931
  • Enlarge image

Silo for coal, Big Pit Colliery South Wales

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Wales (photographed)
    Munich (published)

  • Date:

    1974 (photographed)
    20th century (made)
    1975 (published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Becher, Bernhard, born 1931 (maker)
    Becher, Hilla, born 1934 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin-silver print

  • Credit Line:

    Acquired from Nigel Greenwood Inc. in 1975

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 909, box B

The Bechers investigate the relationship between form and function, especially in regard to vernacular and industrial architecture. In many of their images they display a particular type of building in a grid, using repetition to facilitate comparison. This image of four cooling towers allows the same typological comparison in one image. The precise aesthetic that permeates the Bechers' work has had a great impact on the many photographers who have studied under them at the Düsseldorf Academy.

Physical description

Black and white photograph of a silo for coal.

Place of Origin

Wales (photographed)
Munich (published)


1974 (photographed)
20th century (made)
1975 (published)


Becher, Bernhard, born 1931 (maker)
Becher, Hilla, born 1934 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin-silver print


Height: 403 mm, Width: 497 mm

Object history note

This is the first of a portfolio of 14 prints: “Industrial Buildings” published by Schirmer/Mosel, Munich, 1975, in association with Ilea Sonnabend. Edition of 50, the photographs were printed by the artists and mounted on white card.

Descriptive line

'Silo for coal, Big Pit Colliery, South Wales'; photograph (gelatin-silver print) by Bernd and Hilda Becher, 1975, South Wales

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Taken from Departmental Circulation Register 1975

Labels and date

Bernhard and Hilla Becher's photographs appear as factual, precise and apparently passive representations of utilitarian structures. The neutral, even bland, quality of their images - always taken on grey days to avoid harsh shadows - suits the industrial subject matter. They have maintained a consistency of style allowing the systematic comparison of building types in photographs often displayed together in grids. When compared with each another, the outlines of the buildings begin to take on a sculptural quality. Despite being treated equally, each structure has strong individual characteristics, revealed by the Becher's approach. [22/09/2004]
Bernd and Hilla Becher collaborated for over 40 years, first working together in 1959. Their systematic photography of industrial architecture brought them recognition as conceptual artists as well as photographers. With a deliberately impersonal style, they catalogued and compared the functional yet sculptural forms of steel mills and mines.

The Bechers devised a system of ‘typologies’, arranging particular types of buildings in grids. They used a 10 x 8 inch large format camera to obtain detail and worked on overcast days to avoid shadows.

The technical precision and serial approach of the Bechers has influenced some of the most well known fine art photographers today, including Thomas Struth, Thomas Ruff and Andreas Gursky, who were taught by them at the Düsseldorf Academy. [21/11/2012]

Production Note

From a portfolio of 14 prints "Industrial Buildings" 1975.




Gelatin silver process

Subjects depicted





Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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