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Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932) achieved overnight fame in the late 1920s with the first publication of his photographs of plants. They immediately gave him the status of a pioneer of New Objectivity--an innovative moevement in art and photography of the 1920s and 1930s. Blossfeldt, however, was neither a trained photographer nor a botanist. He was a sculptor and art professor who did his photographic work to generate teaching material for his students. In 1977, sixty-one previously unknown collages were discoered in Blossfeldt's estate, in virtually mint condition, of photographic contact prints arranged on large cardboard sheets. Blossfeldt apparently used them to study the relation and similarity of the photographs and to compare them graphically and aesthetically. On some collages Blossfeldt had made marks or handwritten notations. Others show lines for cropping. All collages are reproduced in four colors. Introducing the book is an essay by Swiss art historian Ulrike Meyer Stump.
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The late German artist Karl Blossfeldt spent much of his career as a sculptor and teacher but broke artistic ground by photographing and isolating plant forms and achieving what was considered objective photography. Blossfeldt made an art historical impact with the release of his 1928 book of photographs, Art Forms in Nature, and was thrust into the limelight as the forefather of the New Objectivity art movement of the 1930s: "The rigorous composition of Blossfeldt's photographs of plant details, like wrought iron shapes on a neutral ground--originally intended for use in his classes on plant modeling--struck his contemporaries as being exemplary for modern photography." Now, his photographic collages of plant forms (discovered in 1977) are shown in their entirety in Karl Blossfeldt: Working Collages. These collages have stirred the curiosity of some in the field because they are so different from Blossfeldt's known work.
An insightful introduction by Swiss art historian Ulrike Meyer Stump explains the importance of the discovery of the collages as well as their possible influence and relationship to other conceptual artists. If you're interested in the beginnings of conceptual artwork, this book is a great chance to wonder and draw your own conclusions about the thought process of an important contributor to photography. -- J.P. CohenAbout the Author:
Ann Wilde is curator of the Karl Blossfeldt Archive.
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