Ulrike Meyer Stump ‘Karl Blossfeldt: Variations’

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In the 1890s, Berlin artist, sculptor and teacher Karl Blossfeldt started to photograph plants, seeds and other illustrative material from nature for the purpose of teaching his students about the patterns and designs found in natural forms. His close-ups of the smallest plant parts, magnified up to thirty times their natural size, are startling as the plants appear geometric and sculptural. Published in 1928, his first collection of photographs Urformen der Kunst (later translated into English as Art Forms in Nature) became an international bestseller and remains one of the most significant photo books of the twentieth century.

Karl Blossfeldt: Variations is the first book-length monograph to examine the reception of Blossfeldt’s work. Drawing on unpublished materials, it analyzes the photographs’ replication in teaching materials, pattern books and art books, and also in the pages of the illustrated press. The six chapters of the richly illustrated study trace the paths Blossfeldt’s legendary plant motifs described as specimens, illustrations, patterns, analogues, models and abstractions from 1890 to 1945. Thematic excursions into the present, illustrating the rediscovery of Blossfeldt’s motifs in design and architecture over the past twenty years, offer a contemporary perspective on the famous German photographer.

Specifications:   Lars Müller Publishers ・ 2021 ・ Hardcover ・ 16,5 × 24 cm. / 512 pages ・ English ・ 978-3-03778-636-9

Ulrike Meyer Stump is a lecturer in the Knowledge Visualisation program in the Department of Design at the Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland. She holds an MA in Museology from the Ecole du Louvre in Paris and a PhD in Art History from Princeton University. Her work as a writer, editor, and curator focuses on the photographs of Karl Blossfeldt, contemporary photography, and the history of the photo book. She is the curator of the exhibition “No Two Alike: Karl Blossfeldt, Francis Bruguière, Thomas Ruff” (Contemporary Arts Center Cincinnati, September 2018–January 2019) and editor of its accompanying catalogue, author of “Karl Blossfeldt: Working Collages” (2001) and co-editor of “Karl Blossfeldt: Aus der Werkstatt der Natur.”

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