Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bernd & Hilla Becher

Behind both Andreas Gursky and Candida Hofer are German photographers Bernd & Hilla Becher of the Düsseldorf Academy. Over the years the couple has photographed typologies of architecture including water towers, furnaces, mineheads, industrial buildings, industrial landscapes, and most recently, grain elevators. Sonnabend is one of my favorite galleries, always on the top my list when I get to Chelsea, and this show was one I was eagerly anticipating. However, for some reason, perhaps because of my association with the grain elevators of the Canadian prairies, perhaps because I had certain expectations--for whatever reason I found the show extremely disappointing. The grain elevator is a regal structure, jutting out of prairie, and often the tallest structure as far as the eye can see. Here the Becher's reduce the structures to lines--and perhaps because they are photographed so tightly, they seem out of context without the surrounding space. It isn't that the photographs aren't beautiful, it's that they are austere, stripped of meaning, too perfect in fact, for the structures themselves.

Sonnabend has never seemed so cold as with this show.

On until June 30th, 2007

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