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Collection > Bernd and Hilla Becher >

Winding Towers


  • Medium

    Nine silver gelatin developed-out prints

  • Dimensions

    Installed together: 60 × 48 in. (152.4 × 121.92 cm)
    Frame (White painted metal): 20 1/2 × 16 1/2 × 3/4 in. (52.07 × 41.91 × 1.91 cm)
    Each: 20 × 16 in. (50.8 × 40.64 cm)
    Image: 16 x 12 in. (40.64 x 30.48 cm)

  • Credit

    The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Gift of Lannan Foundation

  • Accession number


  • Object label

    Bernd and Hilla Becher’s grid of black-and-white photographs presents a typology of the winding tower, a structural frame used in transporting workers and materials in and out of underground mines. Each of the nine examples is shot from a frontal viewpoint in evenly distributed light, its geometric forms crisp against overcast backgrounds. The strategy of repetition invites comparison. The Bechers, a husband-and-wife team who collaborated from 1959 until Bernd’s death in 2007, exhaustively documented coal silos, lime kilns, oil refineries, cooling towers, and blast furnaces across Europe and North America, just as these largely nineteenth-century technologies were being demolished or left to ruin in our increasingly postindustrial society. The absence of people in their work underscores this desolation. On the one hand, the photographs are deadpan, their grid format mimicking the cold one-after-the-next logic of industrial production. On the other, they are nostalgic, memorial images of outmoded utilitarian architecture that the Bechers deemed "anonymous sculptures".