In terms of their construction and function, it is possible to closely relate to the structures Bernd and Hilla Becher viewed through the lens of a large-format camera. The blast furnace and the blast furnace head were, to the extent that the prevailing circumstances permitted, often photographed from three or even four sides, so that the image sequence conveys an overall view of the respective object–from the front, from the sides, and in perspective.
Now, for the first time, an opportunity is being presented to view and compare the extensively compiled series of photographs of different blast furnaces taken by the artist couple during their numerous travels through Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, and the United States. The exhibition presents about two-hundred and fifty of the black-and-white images of more than forty-five blast furnaces taken since the sixties; series of photographs and individual large- format pictures that were assembled for under the direction of Hilla Becher, or new prints made on the basis of the original negative archives. The series are devoted to, for example, the German blast furnaces in Duisburg- Bruckhausen, Völklingen, Lübeck, or in Eisenhüttenstadt; the French plants in Longwy, Rombas, or Neuves-Maisons; the furnaces in Liège-Seraing, Charleroi, and La Louvière in Belgium or in Terre Rouge and Differdingen in Luxembourg; as well as facilities in the American towns of Ensley, Fairfield, Gadsden, Mingo Junction, Aliquippa und Youngstown.
Some of them have meanwhile been decommissioned, converted, or even declared industrial monuments, while others are still in operation.
This is the fourth exhibition project mounted by Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur featuring works by the Bechers. The first three projects were devoted to the presentation of various mines, including the Concordia and Hannover coal mines in the Ruhr region. With the blast furnace plants, light is being thrown on a further range of motifs that occupies a prominent place in the Cologne collection.
Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur Website