Title: Karl Blossfeldt, 1865-1932
Publisher: Taschen, U.S.A.
Publication Date: 1999
Book Condition: Near Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine
Oversized book. Book and dust jacket are bright and crisp. Jacket in mylar sleeve. Very nice copy. Extra charges will apply for international or priority mail options. Bookseller Inventory # 037825
Synopsis: A serious man who earned his living as a teacher, Karl Blossfeldt (1865- 1932) seems an unlikely candidate for aesthetic canonisation. But his photographs of plants, taken in their thousands over more than thirty years, reveal a formally rigorous talent whose precision and dedication bridge the nineteenth and twentieth century worlds of Image making as do his contemporaries Eugene Atget and the recently rediscovered Charles Jones. In Blossfeldt's hands, plants and their constituent parts become almost architectural in their construction. Form and structure are laid bare to highlight the secrets of growth in the natural world, and to provide lessons that could be applied to industrial design. Beautifully but starkly composed against plain cardboard backgrounds, Blossfeldt's images, relying on a northern light for their sense of volume, reveal nothing of the man but everything of themselves. They are still-lifes, piercingly final statements on their subject. Blossfeldt's intention was always to document his teaching methods and to establish a photographic archive of his work. Neither was to be, but his images have endured owing to their technical brilliance and their ongoing fascination to students in a number of disciplines. Like their maker, they are quietly and lastingly effective.
Review: When Karl Blossfeldt published Art Forms in Nature in 1928, he made photographic history and became an instant celebrity. The public loved the world of tiny shapes and organic monumentality revealed in his enlargements of flowers and seeds, stems and leaves. Yet Blossfeldt did not consider himself a photographer. He produced his beautiful studies of plant forms to illustrate the courses he taught on architecture at Berlin's School of Arts and Crafts. For 30 years he used the same painstaking method. He would make long journeys into the countryside to select his specimens, which tended to be hardy weeds rather than cultivated flowers. He then prepared them against a neutral cardboard background in various ways designed to avoid camera shake, then photographed in extreme close-up with a homemade plate camera equipped with a very long bellows. Plants gave Blossfeldt a constant supply of graceful designs in which organic growth modified the basic symmetry of natural forms. Unfurling ferns resemble Gothic tracery or a bishop's crosier, a seed pod suggests a medieval weapon, reed stems look like skyscrapers. This beautifully produced book contains 348 illustrations, including all of the plates in Blossfeldt's three books of 1928, 1932, and 1942 plus 30 large unpublished images made in his childhood home in the Harz Mountains of Germany. Blossfeldt's visual discoveries transport viewers into a fairyland of art deco patterns and shapes; every page of this book is a delightful surprise. If there is a gardener in your life, this is the perfect gift. --John Stevenson
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