Karl Blossfeldt

01st October 2019

Subject and Background

I was amazed to read that Blossfeldt was only an amateur photographer who took his pictures using a home-made wooden camera. He used his images as a teaching aid in his drawing classes that he lectured in at the Berlin College of Art.

Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932) was neither a professional photographer nor a natural scientist. He was a sculptor, amateur photographer, and a professor at Berlin’s school of arts and crafts where he taught modeling. His interest in the plant world was of an artistic and didactic nature: he was fascinated by the structure of plants, their organic configuration, and their “lofty artistic form” born “of expediency,” which he wanted to illustrate and compare in a photographic style that could be described as strictly objective, almost graphic. His goal was to create a catalogue of forms for the benefit of artists, artisans, and, above all, architects, providing them with a book of instruction and models to guide them in their designs.

Amazon descriptions

He became very well known when, at the age of 63, his first book, the photo volume Urformen Der Kunst (Art Forms in Nature 1928) was published.

It is written that although we know of a few hundred of his images, he may have actually produced some 6000 plant pictures. Due to separating the plants from any distraction of a background they look scientific in nature. Simple, clean compositions and background help the plants to own the picture plane. We are able to see the complexed outlines of the plants and the negative spaces that they produce and then we focus on the over all shapes present and the textures.

I absolutely love the images. They remind me of detailed etchings from old books or drypoint prints. They certainly capture my interest and have inspired me to think of subjects that I could shoot like this for my artwork themes.

From the blog, Meet Me in Philadelphia

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