Karl Blossfeldt

Photographer. Artist. Sculptor. Professor. Archivist. Scientist.

A multitude of job titles follow the name of Karl Blossfeldt yet perhaps he is best remembered for his dynamic approach to capturing botanical detail and growth.

Whilst teaching design at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Berlin, from 1898 to 1930 he collected thousands of plant close-ups as a means of showcasing the possibilities of design and pattern inspiration within the stemmed and seeded.

With no formal training in photography, Blossfeldt approached the capturing of organic detail with the same precision as he would his sculptural works. This meticulous obsession would result in him developing several self-produced cameras with a wide array of powerful magnifying lenses, containing the ability to magnify natural material up to 30 times from its original size. These magnified images, perfectly showcasing the pedagogical form that so captivated Blossfeldt, surmised his need to reawaken the link between man and nature.

‘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.’

This striking body of black and white analogue documentation was presented in his first publication, aptly titled Urwerk in der Kunst / Art Forms in Nature in 1928 in collaboration with local Berlin gallerist du jour Karl Nierendorf.

Wundergarten der Natur / The Magic Garden of Nature followed in 1932 and subsequently cemented Blossfeldt’s reckoning as an artistic visionary. Permitting the architectural to merge with the photographic, with a sensibility of scientific appreciation, his works were awarded the New Vision Photography Prize in the same year.
But above all, besides the numerous accolades, these large-format film images render a tangibility that is in its essentiality both timeless and cutting-edge.
A vision, praising the sculptures the Earth has bestowed upon us.