Bernd Becher was born in Siegen, Germany, in 1931. Hilla Becher was born Hilla Wobeser in 1934, in Potsdam, Germany. They met at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where they both studied painting in the late 1950s, and began to collaborate in 1959. Their first gallery exhibition took place in 1963 at the Galerie Ruth Nohl in Siegen. Since then, their work has been shown in Documentas 5 (1972), 6 (1977), 7 (1982), and 11 (2002), and at the São Paulo Bienal, in 1977. The Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, organized a retrospective of the artists' work in 1981. Their exhibition at Dia in 1989–91 included photographs of grain elevators, hot-blast stoves, mineheads, and other industrial structures. After winning the 1991 Leone d'Oro award at the Venice Biennale, the Bechers reworked their Venice installation for a retrospective exhibition at the Kunstverein Cologne. Highly influential teachers at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, they were awarded the Erasmus Prize of 2002, which honors achievements in society and culture. Bernd Becher died on June 26, 2007 in Rostock, Germany.