Bernhard and Hilla Becher born 1931 and 1934
T01923 Coal Bunkers
Nine photographs mounted on card, 58 7/8 x 39 1/2 (149.5 x 100.3); the photographs vary slightly in size but average about 16 x 12 (40.5 x 30.5)
Purchased from the artists through Nigel Greenwood Inc. Ltd., London (Grant-in-Aid) 1974
Exh: Series, Tate Gallery, December 1977-January 1978 (17)
Repr: B. & H. Becher, Bernd & Hilla Becher (Genoa 1973), n.p. reproduces the same photographs of all except Lothringen at Bochum, Hucknall Colliery at Nottingham, and Pattbergschächte at Repelen
Coal bunkers are sometimes attached to collieries and cokeries, sometimes not, and are used for storing coal and often for loading it straight into railway trucks or lorries. Those which appear in this work are identified as follows on a label mounted below the photographs:
[first row:] COCERY ESCH WEILER- | REBERVE [SIC] | ESCHWElLER (D); COCERY ROBERT-MUSER | BOCHUM (D); COCERY COURRIERES | LENS (F)
[second row:] COCERY LOTHRINGEN | BOCHUM (D); COCERY HANNIBAL | BOCHUM (D); HUCKNALL COLLIERY | NOTTINGHAM (GB)
ROBERTMUSER | BOCHUM (D); COCERY | PATTBERGSCHACHTE | REPELEN (D); COCERY BIG PIT | BLAENAVON (GB)
Thus all six in the left-hand and centre rows are German, the one at the top right is French and the other two on the right are British.
The photograph of Eschweiler Reserve, Eschweiler, was taken in 1965, that of Big Pit, Blaenavon, in 1966, those of Robert-Müser and Hannibal, both of Bochum, in 1967, that of Courrières, Lens, in 1970, that of Lothringen, Bochum, in 1972 and the remaining two of Pattbergschächte, Repelen, and Hucknall Colliery, Nottingham, in 1973. At least six of these structures have since been demolished, namely those at Robert-Müser (both), Eschweiler Reserve, Lothringen, Hannibal and Big Pit.
T01923 is the only work with this particular combination of photographs, apart from a version which was made specially for the Bechers' Arts Council touring exhibition of 1974-5 and which was afterwards dismantled.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.40, reproduced p.40