History of Photography

Introduction History of Photography (Encyclopaedia Britannica)

A World History of Photography (by Naomi Rosenblum)

The Story Behind the Pictures 1827-1991 (by Hans-Michael Koetzle)

Photographers' Dictionary
(based on "20th Century Photography - Museum Ludwig Cologne")



Photographers' Dictionary

(based on "20th Century Photography-Museum Ludwig Cologne")




Karl Blossfeldt

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Karl Blossfeldt (1865 – 1932) was a German photographer, sculptor, teacher, and artist who worked in Berlin, Germany, at the turn of the century. He worked with a camera he designed himself. That camera allowed him to greatly magnify the objects he was capturing, to up to 30 times their actual size. He spent much of his time devoted to the study of nature. In his career of more than 30 years, he photographed nothing but plants, or rather, sections of plants. In many of his photographs, he would zoom in so close to a plant that the plant no longer looked like a plant. The images he created looked more like lovely, abstract forms. His photos revealed the amazing detail found in nature.
When Karl Blossfeldt began his career, photography was still quite new. Many people saw it as a scientific tool. They looked at it as an infallible means of capturing the world. Many people did not look at photography as an art form yet. Blossfeldt's work can be seen as a transition between looking at photography as just science and looking at photography as art.
Blossfeldt was born in Schielo, the Unterharz region of Germany. He attended high school in the nearby village of Harzgerode and graduated with a secondary school certificate. He started as a sculpture and modelling apprentice at the iron foundry in Mägdesprung by the Harz mountains. Between 1884 and 1890, he took music and drawing classes at the Lehranstalt des Königlich Preussischen Kunstgewerbemuseums (The Royal Institute of Arts and Crafts), in Berlin thanks to a fellowship granted by the Prussian government.
Over the next decade, Blossfeldt traveled around Italy, Greece, and North Africa, where he started collecting plant material for drawing classes and systematically documented single plant samples with photographs under the tutelage of Moritz Meurer, who published some of the young photographer’s work. In 1898, Blossfeldt joined the Kunstgewerbliche Lehranstalt, teaching modelling based on plant samples and his own photographs as class material. He held this position for 31 years.
His works focused on the beauty of nature. He chose to use the organic forms of the earth to contrast against stark backgrounds so that the shapes he created focused on the small detail of nature, making it the main focus of the image and to show these natural compositions on scales as small as ornamental ironwork and as large as the shapes of entire buildings.
In 1912, he married Helene Wegener, an opera singer. She was his second wife. Together they traveled around southern Europe and northern Africa. In 1921, he was appointed Hochschule für bildende Künste professor at the Institute in Berlin.
Blossfeldt's botanical photographs, which Meurer had used as teaching material in his drawing manual, were first exhibited at Berlin's Gallery Nierendorf in 1926 and were published in several illustrated magazines and books on architecture and design theory. The 1928 publication of Urformen der Kunst (Archetypes of Art), a stunning collection of extreme closeup photos of plants, earned Blossfeldt a place as a pioneer in the New Objectivity art movement. The book received enthusiastic responses from both literary circles and the general public.
His success was followed by another exhibition at the Bauhaus in Dessau in 1929, and a series of botanical photographs were published in Documents to illustrate Georges Bataille's article "The Language of Flowers" (1929, issue 3). Blossfeldt retired from teaching to emeritus status at the college in 1930.
His Second Series of Art Forms in Nature were published in Wundergarten der Natur (Magical Garden of Nature), which was published in the year he died, 1932. Blossfeldt's lifespan mirrors almost exactly that of the objective photographer Wilson Bentley (1865–1931), from the U.S. state of Vermont, whose work focused on photographically recording snowflakes and ice crystals.




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