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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Karl Blossfeldt

Dates:  1865, 13 June - 1932, 9 December
Born:  Germany, Harz, Schielo
Died:  Germany, Berlin
Active:  Germany
German biologist photographer best known for his highly detailed plant photographs. In 1928 he published ‘Urformen Der Kunst. Photographische Pflanzenbilder‘ (Berlin) and this along with the 1932 ‘Wundergarten der Natur‘ (Berlin) have becomes classics of the history of photography.

Preparing biographies

Biography provided by Focal Press 
For over 30 years, Blossfeldt produced thousands of sharp focus, black and white, close-up details of plant forms, frontally or from above, against neutral white or gray backgrounds, to reveal the elementary structures of the natural world and their relation to artistic form. By isolating and enlarging discrete portions of a subject the characteristics, details, patterns, and textures that would otherwise go unobserved by human vision or conventional photography Blossfeldt made the imperceptible perceptible. His book Urformen der Kunst (Archetypes of Art, 1928), became a landmark of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity). 
(Author: Robert Hirsch - Independent scholar and writer) 
Michael Peres (Editor-in-Chief), 2007, Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th edition, (Focal Press) [ISBN-10: 0240807405, ISBN-13: 978-0240807409] 
(Used with permission) 

Further research

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Karl Blossfeldt
Karl Bossfeldt (1865-1932) 
Family history 
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch.

Exhibitions on this website

Theme: Nature
ThumbnailKarl Blossfeldt‘s Original "Urformen der Kunst" / "Art Forms in Nature" 
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Visual indexes

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Visual indexes for this photographer are available for subscribers.There is so much more to explore when you subscribe. 

Internet biographies

Terms and Conditions

Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer. Go to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
 Go to website

Internet resources

Terms and Conditions

Material Forms in Nature: The Photographs of Karl Blossfeldt ... 
Article by Hanako Murata, MoMA - Museum of Modern Art. 

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Auer, Michele & Michel 1985 Encyclopedie Internationale Des Photographes de 1839 a Nos Jours / Photographers Encylopaedia International 1839 to the present (Hermance, Editions Camera Obscura) 2 volumes [A classic reference work for biographical information on photographers.] 
• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.68-69 
• Fernandez, Horacio (ed.) 2000 Fotografía Pública: Photography in Print 1919-1939 (Aldeasa) p.59 [This Spanish exhibition catalogue is one of the best sources for illustrations of photomontage and book design for the period between the two World Wars.] 
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Karl Blossfeldt.] 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

• Koetzle, Hans-Michael 2002 Photo Icons: The Story Behind the Pictures - Volume 1 (Koln: Taschen) [This book discusses one photograph "Maidenhair Fern (ca. 1900)" by Karl Blossfeldt in considerable detail. An excellent source for a detailed analysis.] 
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