Coal Mines and Steel Mills.
Photographs by Bernd & Hilla Becher.
Schirmer/Mosel, 2010. 188 pp., 154 duotone illustrations, 11x11".
The core themes of Bernd and Hilla Becher's extensive work form the early 1960s on were the coal mines and steel mills in the German Ruhr region and other iron smelting regions of the world, from Lothringen to Pittsburgh.
The book centers on the 'industrial landscapes,' as the two artists called them. The Bechers did not seek to depict these areas as individual architectural objects, but rather to contextualize them as complete facilities and heavy industry complexes in their urban and rural environment. Now that iron smelting as an industry has almost completely disappeared from the Ruhr region, and the European coal mining industry is following hard on its heels, this collection of impressive pictures - from the German Siegerland region, Great Britain, France, and the USA - provides an overview of a bygone era of industrial history. As well as famous Becher icons, the volume also features many previously unpublished photographs.