Taraxacum officinale. Common dandelion. Urformen der Kunst. 1928
1st edition photogravure
Strikingly modern and inherently beautiful, Blossfeldt's photographs of plants, flowers and seed heads are as appealing today, as they were when they were first introduced to the public in his two landmark books Urformen der Kunst, (Archetypal Forms of Art), 1928 and Wundergarten der Natur, (The Wondergarden of Nature),1932.
From 1898-1932, Blossfeldt taught sculpture based on natural plant forms at the Royal School of the Museum of Decorative Arts (now the Hochschule für Bildende Künste) in Berlin. In his life time Blossfeldt's work gained praise and support from critics such as Walter Benjamin, artists of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Realism) and the Paris Surrealists.
The use of botanical specimens as photographic subject matter became popular in the early and mid-nineteenth century at the inception of the photographic medium, as is evident in the calotypes of Henry Fox-Talbot and the cyanotype studies of Anna Atkins. The further use of these photographic subjects as models for translation into other art mediums was practiced by Blossfeldt as well as others before him, such as the photographer/draftsman Adolphe Braun, who translated floral arrangements into award-winning textile designs.
What made his work unique, was Blossfeldt's extreme technical mastery of photography. He specialised in macrophotography to enlarge his plant specimens and even designed a camera for this purpose. As a result, everyday garden flowers are presented in such a way that their rhythmic forms are emphasised to the extreme and the plants take on new and exotic characteristics. Blossfeldt wanted his work to act as a teaching aid and inspiration for architects, sculptors and artists. It was his firm belief that only through the close study of the intrinsic beauty present in natural forms, that contemporary art would find its true direction.
Today Blossfeldt's work is in the collections of the Museum Ludwig, Cologne; the National Library, Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and many other important collections. Vintage silver prints are extremely scarce and command prices up to $50,000 each, depending on condition. The gravures offered at the Michael Hoppen Gallery are from the first edition of Urformen der Kunst, (1929), and Wundergarten der Natur, (1932), and are in perfect condition