The great Hilla Becher, one half of the most influential partnership in 20th century photography, died last week at the age of 81. In some ways, the reputation of Hilla and her husband Bernd, has never been higher. Their work was the cornerstone of the Constructing Worlds show at the Barbican last year; last month the Ben Brown gallery in London held a show of their works and of the long list of leading photographers they taught at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf; and Christie’s Frieze-time day sale is going big on the Bechers and their acolytes, including Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Thomas Struth and Thomas Ruff.
Christie’s Senior Specialist Herrard Schorn, an expert in German photography and based in Dusseldorf, helped put the sale together. A long-time friend of the Bechers (and clearly still upset at Hilla’s passing), Schorn says the pair’s influence was enormous, as artists and teachers. 'There is an early Gursky piece in the sale and you can really see the influence of the Bechers. It’s great that it is in the show because it makes that connection clear. They really kept an open house and their students, that generation of photographers were like second children to them.'
'They really are hugely important, both because of their conceptual approach but also as documentarians. The pictures are beautiful but they are incredibly important in terms of the history of architecture.'
The sale includes works by other German artists including Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke and Anselm Kiefer. Another great educator, Josef Albers, is also represented in the sale, as is a notable student, Robert Rauschenberg. Also coming under the hammer are works by Anish Kapoor, Ugo Rondinone and Yves Klein.