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Cooling Tower
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© Bernd and Hilla Becher

Bernd and Hilla Becher
German, 1968
Gelatin silver print
9 3/8 x 7 1/16 in.
84.XM.125.37

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This cooling tower, its worn, corrugated sides crisscrossed with steel supports, is an unwitting work of sculpture. Its industrial purpose is communicated by the title, not the structure's appearance. Centralized and isolated, Bernd and Hilla Becher framed the tower like a gigantic milk bottle placed squarely in a miniaturized landscape, dwarfing the building on its right.

The blank, pale gray sky surrounds the tower, emphasizing its clean lines. In order to achieve an overall uniform contrast in the print, the Bechers exposed their negatives on overcast days for even lighting.