In accordance with Article 2 of the statutes of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation, an annual prize is awarded to a person or institution whose contributions in the fields of culture, humanities or social sciences have been of outstanding importance to Europe.

His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands has confirmed the decision of the Board of the Foundation to award the Praemium Erasmianum for the year 2002 to Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher-Wobeser.

The Erasmus Prize 2002 is awarded to Hilla Becher-Wobeser and Bernd Becher,

because their work is of the highest quality and can be considered as fundamental for the new documentary photography, the so-called ‘objective photography’;

  • because they have documented industrial architecture with great perseverance and consistency. This long-term project is unique in scope and systematic approach. It was started at a time when this kind of documentation did not yet earn esthetic recognition;
  • because with their photographs of the industrial heritage they have paid a worthy tribute to the visual representation of the old economy;
  • because in their work they have bridged photography and the arts, causing the differences between documentary photography and visual arts to disappear;
  • because their art has a strong appeal and has led many observers to view reality with a different eye;
  • because they have created a lasting oeuvre not only with their own work; they have passed on their inspiration and their views to three generations of photographers, who in their turn, have further deepened and developed the art of documentary photography.