I am obsessed with the photographs of German artist and teacher, Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932). I discovered his work on Pinterest when I started researching plant forms – specifically seedpods to serve as a spring board for my clay practice.
A sample of Plant Photographs by Karl Blossfeldt
He developed his own cameras that could make photographs that enlarged a subject up to 30 times its size. Originally, his photographs began as a teaching experiment at the Unterrichtsanstalt des Königlichen Kunstgewerbemuseums Berlin, now part of the Kunstwerbe Museum.
Among his preferred subject matters were plants.
He believed that ‘the plant must be valued as a totally artistic and architectural structure.’
Ultimately, his photographs served as teaching aids for his students. By sharing his magnified photographs of plants with art students, the photographs illustrated how the intricate structures of plants can inform design. Sounds a lot like “biomimicry“, before the term earned a fancy name.
To see more of his work, please check out some of the links that I provide in this post.
History of the Collection
Karl Blossfeldt’s collection of photographs was published in 1928 in Urformen der Kunst or Art Forms in Nature 30 years after the photos were originally taken. Here is a link to an in depth pdf for more information.
In 1974, Ann and Jürgen Wilde purchased the negatives of the photographs and established the Karl Blossfeldt Archives which is now part of the Ann and Jürgen Wilde Foundation associated with the Bayerische Staatsfamaldesammlungen, Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, Germany.