Sunday, May 31, 2015

Karl Blossfeldt / A Teacher of Contemplation

Karl Blossfeldt

Karl Blossfeldt was an attentive observers of nature, a teacher of contemplation. He used photography in the early days but his images are still powerful today. It reminds us to look at the ordinary and realize the immanent wonder.

Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932) was a German instructor of sculpture who used his remarkable photographs of plant studies to educate his students about design elements in nature. Self-taught in photography, he devoted himself to the study of nature, photographing nothing but flowers, buds and seed capsules for thirty-five years. He once said,"The plant never lapses into mere arid functionalism; it fashions and shapes according to logic and suitability, and with its primeval force compels everything to attain the highest artistic form."

Blossfeldt's photographs were made with a homemade camera that could magnify the subject up to thirty times its actual size. By doing so he revealed extraordinary details within the natural structure of the plants. In the process he created some of the most innovative photographic work of his time. The simple yet expressive forms captured on film affirmed his boundless artistic and intellectual ability.

Published in 1928 when Blossfeldt was sixty-three and a professor of applied art at the Berliner Kunsthochschule,Urformen der Kunst quickly became an international bestseller and in turn made Blossfeldt famous almost overnight. His contemporaries were enchanted by the abstract shapes and structures in nature that he revealed to the world. In 2001 Urformen der Kunst was included in "The Book of 101 Books" as one of the seminal photographic books of the Twentieth Century.

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