Essays about Karl Blossfeldt
Karl Blossfeldt – work in progress.
A Project of Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Köln, in cooperation with Berlin University of the Arts
The name Karl Blossfeldt has a veritable signal effect today, instantly associated with powerful black-and-white photographs of finely rendered plant forms. In 1999, Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Cologne, found a major cooperation partner in Berlin University of the Arts. Together, the two institutions set themselves the goal of documenting and digitizing the Karl Blossfeldt collection in the Berlin university‘s possession and making it available for research and exhibition purposes.
The Karl Blossfeldt Collection at the Berlin University of the Arts
Teaching materials for arts and crafts classes
Karl Blossfeldt was a student, teacher and ultimately professor at the Institute of the Royal Arts and Crafts Museum in Berlin, which amalgamated with the Hochschule für die Bildenden Künste in 1924 and thereafter operated under the name Vereinigte Staatsschulen für Freie und Angewandte Kunst (United State Schools for Fine and Applied Arts). That joint venture was a predecessor of the Berlin University of the Arts (Universität der Künste Berlin – UdK) and had stored in its archives a collection of photographs, herbaria and sculptures that Karl Blossfeldt – taking a leaf from his mentor Moritz Meurer – used in his classes for arts and crafts students.
Karl Blossfeldt – Student Days and Teaching Career
Sources and Documents from the Berlin University of the Arts Archive
This extensive collection of documents includes a special sub-group comprised of nine letters by Karl Blossfeldt, some of which have not previously been published. The letters provide valuable information about the content and didactic concept of his classes and also reflect his position within the educational establishment. On a more general level, moreover, they permit conclusions to be drawn about the structure of art and design education at the time. Other documents such as grade books, syllabuses and other relevant correspondence, e.g. between Moritz Meurer and Ernst Ewald, the Arts and Crafts Museum Institute’s director from 1874 to 1904, also provide important clues to Blossfeldt‘s work and information about the Institute in general.
From Waldenburg to Rome
The painter and art school reformer
Moritz Meurer (1839–1916)
Karl Blossfeldt‘s plant photographs aroused a great deal of interest worldwide during the course of the 20th century. The work of his mentor Moritz Meurer, on the other hand, which was a source of both guidance and inspiration for Blossfeldt and pursued the same goal, sank almost into oblivion. Born in Waldenburg, Saxony, Moritz Meurer lived and taught for many years as a decorative painter in Berlin before becoming a protagonist of an arts and crafts reform movement calling for a whole new approach to the study of nature in the applied arts.