10 Facts About Karl Blossfeldt

Karl Blossfeldt was a German photographer, who is famous for his path-breaking microphotography which was acclaimed worldwide after the release of his book Urformen der Kunst. Here are 10 facts about Karl Blossfeldt.

#1   Karl Blossfeldt was born on June 13, 1865 in Schielo, a village in the Harz district of Germany. From the year 1881 to 1884, he studied sculpture and did apprenticeship in an artistic form of iron casting at the Art Ironworks and Foundry in Magdesprung, Germany.

Pumpkin Tendrils (Karl Blossfeldt photo)
Pumpkin Tendrils

#2   Karl studied painting and music at the Institute of Royal Arts Museum in Berlin. Later he taught plant drawing and modeling at the same institute from 1898 to 1930, a period of over 30 years.

#3   In 1898, Blossfeldt married Maria Plank but their marriage lasted for only twelve years and they got divorced in 1910. Two years later he married again, this time to opera singer Helene Eminem, with whom he stayed till the end of his life.

Passionsblume Passion Flower (Photo by Karl Blossfeldt)
Passionsblume Passion Flower

#4   Just like his father, Karl was inspired by nature and his artistic endeavors were directed towards capturing how plants grow. He believed that ‘the plant must be valued as a totally artistic and architectural structure.’

#5   Karl Blossfeldt never received any training in photography. He built himself a plate camera which could magnify the subject up to thirty times in size. With it he took over 6,000 photographs of plants. He used these for making demonstrations to his students.

Adiantum Pedatum Maidenhair Fern Young Unfurling Fronds
Adiantum Pedatum Maidenhair Fern Young Unfurling Fronds

#6    His photographs were unique in the way that they were highly enlarged and showed the subject in its essence, highlighting its structure and beauty. This microphotography made the plants exhibit exotic characteristics like never before.

#7   The uniqueness of his close up photography was discovered by a gallery owner and in 1926 they were exhibited in Berlin. In 1928, when Karl was 63 years old, his first book containing 120 of his original photographs was published under the title ‘Urformen der Kunst’ (Art Forms in Nature).

Allium ostrowskianum umbel of a garlic plant
Allium ostrowskianum umbel of a garlic plant

#8    Urformen der Kunst became an international bestseller and with its success Blossfeldt became renowned all over the world. The book was responsible for initiating a new movement in photography and was included in “The Book of 101 Books” as one of the seminal photographic books of the twentieth century.

#9    In 1932 another book titled “Wundergarten der Natur” (Magical Garden of Nature) was released, which further established Karl’s technical mastery of photography. In the book, Blossfeldt refers to nature as the ‘instructor’ of art and technology.

Karl Blossfeldt in 1895
Karl Blossfeldt in 1895

#10    Karl suffered from scrotal tumor and in the last years of his life it spread to his spine and paralyzed him. The tumor ultimately caused his death on December 9, 1932. He was 67 years old.

1 thought on “10 Facts About Karl Blossfeldt”

Leave a Comment