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Karl Blossfeldt

Born in Schielo, Harz Mountains on June 13, 1865, Karl Blossfeldt enjoyed a blissful childhood in the German countryside. He began drawing plants and animals at an early age. He received an artistic education and served an apprenticeship at an ironworks foundry in Magdesprung between 1881 and 1883. He also attended the Berlin School of Arts and Crafts and studied under botanical painter Moritz Meurer. Under Mr. Meurer's tutelage, he began photographing various plants and casting models of botanical samples.

After receiving a Prussian Ministry of Trade grant to work in Rome collecting natural specimens that would be used to supplement German industry, Mr. Meurer assembled a group of students that included Mr. Blossfeldt for the six-year sojourn. The thousands of plants collected were treated as artistic pieces, much like architectural buildings. Mr. Blossfeldt discovered that simplicity was best when photographic plants. He observed, "Since only simple forms lend themselves to graphic representation, I cannot make use of lush flowers." The plant shoots were removed from their stems, trimmed, placed upon a support with a nondescript background (such as white cardboard), magnified at nearly 30 times its size, and then an exposure was made. A book featuring two of Blossfeldt's photographs of the acanthus plant and its impact upon ancient art was published in 1896. Mr. Meurer went back to Berlin shortly thereafter while Karl Blossfeldt remained behind in Italy to contemplate his future.

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2012-09-22 09:01:28
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