Karl Blossfeldt isn’t on most people’s radar, but those who are familiar with him rarely forget his images.
Blossfeldt (1965-1932) was a German artist and teacher who was passionately interested in botany, and he used his botanical photographs as teaching tools in his sculpture and architecture classes to illustrate the complexity of structures found in nature.
When I first saw these photos they were in a book written in German, and so I hadn’t any idea of what I was seeing. Devoid of the softness their natural coloration implies and thus stripped down to their architecture, I thought I was looking at close-ups of wrought iron work. Interestingly, Blossfeldt apprenticed in iron casting at an iron foundry.
The second thing which struck me was how intensely sexual some of the images were. When distracted by their colors, scents and textures, who remembers that plants are so slutty? It’s their job to reproduce, after all.
That I jumped to new conclusions about a well known subject matter is exactly what makes Blossfeldt’s botanical photography so important: He forces us to view something familiar in a new way, to come to new conclusions about something we’ve seen a million times before. Blossfeldt, as an artist, did his job well. He used his arsenal of aesthetic skills to communicate, synthesize, and expose us to something which was right there all along, but that we might not have considered or been able to express so eloquently.
Pretty neat, huh? For more Blossfeldt images, check here.