Karl Blossfeldt: Art Forms in Nature is a Hayward Touring exhibition from Southbank Centre, London, which presents an original portfolio of 40 photogravures from 1932.
The photogravures were titled ‘Wundergarten der Natur’ and were edited by the artist and published in the year of his death. The exhibition gives an opportunity to see an exemplary set of Blossfeldt’s signature close-up images of plants and flora.
Blossfeldt (1865-1932) is regarded as one of the defining photographers of the twentieth century for his exceptional contribution to the art through his intricate botanical photographs. During his career, which spanned over three decades and included producing 6,000 photographs, Blossfeldt created homemade cameras and lenses which enabled him to magnify his subjects by up to 30 times. His work captured the microcosmic beauty of his specimens and revealed their underlying structures, which until then remained unexplored.
Blossfedt originally trained as a sculptor and his amateur interest in botany led him to explore naturally occurring forms which to his artist eye had a sculptural quality. In 1928, he was persuaded to publish portfolios of images which he had previously only used as teaching tools and as aides memoires for his sculptural practice. These portfolios were compiled into a book titled Urformen der Kunst (Art Forms in Nature). The publication became an overnight sensation, praised by figures including philosophers Walter Benjamin and George Bataille and artist Laszlo Maholy-Nagy for its technicality and for its objective portrayal of an ‘unknown universe’. His photographs also became highly celebrated amongst early modernists and Surrealists during the late 1920s.
To complement the exhibition, a 1935 copy of the book Art Forms in Nature has been kindly loaned by York University Library.
For visitor information please visit www.museums.eastriding.gov.uk or call 01482 392780