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Karl Blossfeldt

Text from Weston J. Naef, in Counterparts: Form and Emotion in Photographs

"When man uses the camera without any preconceived idea of final results, when he uses the camera as a means to penetrate the objective reality of facts, to acquire truth, when he tries to represent by itself and not by adapting it to any system of emotional representation, then, man is doing photography,"
wrote Stieglitz's friend Marius de Zayas, who was undoubtedly ignorant of the work of his German contemporary Karl Blossfeldt. As well as any other photographer, Blossfeldt embodies this prescription. He saw his photographs not as documents for botany students but as tools for artists and art lovers. He wanted to give substance to the then popular notion that nature is the ultimate creative genius behind all artists and all styles of art - that, in the words of an early critic of his photographs,
"the delicacy of a Rococo ornament, the severity of a Renaissance chandelier, the mystically tangled scroll work of flamboyant Gothic, domes, towers, and the noble shafts of columns - a whole exotic language of architecture. Crosiers embossed in gold, wrought with trellises, rich sceptres: all these man-made forms find their original form in the world of plants."

"Blossfeldt wished to show how logic and suitability could lead to the highest degrees of visual form. To do so, he editorialized at every juncture by carefully choosing plants with a character that suited his ends. In the selectively cast lighting, the close-up point of view, and the neutral background, he directed our attention to the particular details that he wished us to see first. The menacing thorns are half in shadow and half in light in order to exaggerate their mordant character and possibly to suggest something from the arsenal of a satanic warrior."


 


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