Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher

Coal Bunkers

1974

On display at Tate Modern

Medium
9 photographs, black and white, on paper on board
Dimensions
Unconfirmed: 1495 x 1003 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1974
Reference
T01923

Display caption

Husband and wife team Bernd and Hilla Becher began photographing old industrial sites in the 1950s, and described their subjects as ‘buildings where anonymity is accepted to be the style’. The coal bunkers in these photographs were located in Germany, France and Britain, while the photographs of pitheads were all taken at British collieries between 1965 and 1973. Within a few years of completing this work, almost all of the structures had been demolished.

Gallery label, May 2010

Catalogue entry

Bernhard and Hilla Becher born 1931 and 1934

T01923 Coal Bunkers 1974

Not inscribed
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:

COAL BUNKERS

[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.

Published in:
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


Tate Paper

The Photographic Comportment of Bernd and Hilla Becher

Bernd and Bernd and Hilla Becher first began their project of systematically photographing industrial structures in the late 1950s. This ...