Karl Blossfeldt born in 1865, was like his father before him, a huge lover of nature. This love soon turned into an obsession. For more then 30 years he documented and photographed sections of plants with a self made magnifying camera. No longer revealing them as natural forms but more as abstract forms.
In the time that Blossfeldt began taking photos around 1899, photography was more seen as something scientific. Karl just saw it as documenting to restore our relationship with nature.
At that time his photos shocked and inspired the art world, never before had the world seen plant formations like this, in such great detail. His photos were taken just about 60 years after the first ever photo was successfully produced.
If we look at Blossfeldt’s curriculum vitae, it clearly states he was a sculptor and professor of art, something quite different from a trained photographer or scientist/botanist.
But that didn’t mean he wanted his photographs to be viewed as art. The question remains, was Karl just one of the first macro fanatics studying the biology of plants, or was he an artist looking further then biology or was he both?
This is a question that Karl himself was obviously not fazed by at all. He simply stated:
“My botanical documents should contribute to restoring
the link with nature. They should reawaken a sense of
nature, point to its teeming richness of form, and prompt
the viewer to observe for himself the surrounding plant world.”
If he is trying to do so –trying to reawaken a positive feeling for nature– he is giving it to us, by no system of emotional representation. Just plants against a gray wall. So I’m guessing it is the plants themselves that are supposed to reawaken this in me and I’m not quite sure it is working.
Even if I can’t find an immediate understanding of his work right now, I can at least have an admiration for his ability capture something on camera, no one had done before. For his ability to show how our man made world –with its architecture, fashion, design etc– is visually not much different from formations and patterns found in nature, probably without those designers even noticing it themselves.
Here are a few examples of architecture, fashion and design that is very comparable to the images Blossfeldt created.