Karl Bloßfeldt was a botanist and photographer in turn-of-the-century
Berlin. His entire photographic output is devoted to plant parts: twig
ends, seed pods, tendrils, leaf buds, etc. These he meticulously arranged
against stark backgrounds and photographed in magnification, so that
unfamiliar shapes from the messy vegetal world are revealed as startling,
elegant architectural forms. Indeed, his pictures influenced many
architects and decorative artists of his time, who quoted Bloßfeldt's
forms on scales as small as ornamental ironwork and as large as the shapes
of entire buildings.
Much like Andreas Feininger, Bloßfeldt was
deeply interested in forms and textures that nature uses over and over
again, especially at scales not often noticed by the eye. Much like Robert
Mapplethorpe, his photos also show a preoccupation for formal elements of
beauty, regardless of where they may occur.
If you can find a copy of
Karl Bloßfeldt: Das Fotografische Werk [1981, Schirmer-Mosel
(Munich)] in your library, consider yourself very lucky. It is a stunning
book. Since discovering it (& Bloßfeldt) in January, rarely a
week goes by that I fail to open it and marvel. I have included a few of
the several hundred plates here to whet your
White bryony tendrils. Bryonia alba.
Return to my sculpture page.
Matthew Brand / MIT
Media Lab / email@example.com