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Karl Blossfeldt

1865
Karl Blossfeldt is born on 13 June in Schielo (Harz). He attends elementary school there and goes to high school in Harzgerode.

1881–1884
Apprenticeship in artistic casting at the iron foundry in Mägdesprung, earliest works modelled from nature.

1884/1885
Enrolment as a student at the Institute of the Unterrichtsanstalt des Königlichen Kunstgewerbemuseums Berlin; he is identified in grade books as a modeller or sculptor.

1885
He is awarded a Dr. Otto Markwald Foundation scholarship, which is extended to 1886; first experiments with photography as a medium.

1887/88
Last entry for Karl Blossfeldt in the grade books of the Unterrichtsanstalt.

1891
Records show that Blossfeldt works as a modeller at the Unterrichtsanstalt’s bronze workshop under the direction of the sculptor Professor Fritz Behrendt, one of Blossfeldt's teachers.

1892
As a scholarship-holder, Blossfeldt spends part of his time assisting Professor Moritz Meurer in his project to establish a nature studies class in Rome. In his role as modeller, Blossfeldt produces teaching materials based on botanical specimens. Joint study trips are made to other countries in Southern Europe.

1895
Blossfeldt stops working for Meurer in Rome. He uses photography as a medium for producing images for students to work from. He accompanies Meurer on a study trip to Greece.

1896
Meurer's essay Die Ursprungsformen des griechischen Akanthusornamentes und ihre natürlichen Vorbilder is illustrated with plant photographs made by Blossfeldt in Greece.

1896–1898
Blossfeldt works as a modeller and sculptor in Italy.

1898
Earliest documentary reference to the modeller Blossfeldt's appointment as a teacher for "Botanical Drawing in the Decorative Arts" at the Unterrichtsanstalt des Königlichen Kunstgewerbemuseums.
Marries Caroline Maria Plank, domiciled at Bismarck Allee 24 in Grunewald.

1899
An entry in the Unterrichtsanstalt faculty book dated 1 October identifies Karl Blossfeldt as a "Plant Modelling" teacher. He continues to teach this subject throughout his teaching career, although under different names such as "Plant Studies/Modelling" and "Modelling from Live Plants". His lessons are part of the night school and supplementary sculpture curriculum. His students work from prepared plants, live plants and photographs of plants.
Moritz Meurer publishes more photographs by Blossfeldt in Meurer’s Pflanzenbilder. Ornamental verwerthbare Naturstudien für Architekten, Kunsthandwerker, Musterzeichner, p.p.

1902
Death of Blossfeldt's mother Johanna. Blossfeldt lives at Sedanstrasse 19/20 in Schöneberg.

1906
In a letter dated 11 April, Blossfeldt mentions for the first time using photographic enlargements of plants in his lessons.

1909
Moritz Meurer includes numerous photographs by Blossfeldt in his book Vergleichende Formenlehre des Ornamentes und der Pflanze. Mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Entwicklungsgeschichte der architektonischen Kunstformen.

1910
Blossfeldt divorces Caroline Maria Plank and moves to Chausseestr. 60, Lichterfelde. Plants prepared by Blossfeldt are put on show in an internal school exhibition.

1912
Blossfeldt marries Helene Wegener. Now domiciled at Stephanstr. 6, Steglitz, the couple make numerous trips together to Southern Europe and North Africa – important opportunities for Blossfeldt to study plants at length.
Exhibition of work by students in the plant modelling class – work which Blossfeldt has captured in photographic enlargements.

1915
Death of Blossfeldt's father.

1917
Internal school exhibition of work by Karl Blossfeldt's plant modelling class.

1920/21
Blossfeldt is referred to in the syllabus as a professor. He is awarded the certificate of appointment in 1922.

1925
Internal school exhibition of Blossfeldt's plant photographs.

1926
The Nierendorf art gallery in Berlin presents selected plant photographs by Karl Blossfeldt alongside sculptures and masks from Africa and New Guinea as well as work by the painter and graphic artist Richard Janthur.

1928
Urformen der Kunst published by Verlag Ernst Wasmuth at the instigation of the gallerist Karl Nierendorf. An internal school exhibition is staged under the same title.

1929
In view of the huge success of Urformen der Kunst, English [Art Forms in Nature] and French [La plante] editions of the book are published. Blossfeldt takes part in the Deutscher Werkbund's major international Film und Foto exhibition staged in 1929 in Stuttgart (and then on tour in Zurich, Berlin, Vienna and other cities); participation in the Fotografie der Gegenwart in Museum Folkwang Essen (and tour venues London, Hanover, Berlin, Dresden, Magdeburg); solo exhibitions at the Zwemmer Gallery London and the Bauhaus in Dessau.

1930
Blossfeldt is awarded emeritus status. Solo exhibition at the Städtisches Museum in der Moritzburg, Halle; exhibition of Photographic Designs by Francis Bruguière and Art Forms in Nature by Prof. Karl Blossfeldt at the Warren Gallery London.

1932
Wundergarten der Natur
, Blossfeldt's second book, is published with an explanatory text by Berliner Verlag für Kunstwissenschaft.

Karl Blossfeldt dies on 3 December.

Public Guided Tours

Each Sunday at 15 hrs during the exhibition period (in German, please contact us for tours in English)

The education programme is supported by the Society of Patrons of Die Photographische Sammlung.


New publications:

August Sander: Masterpieces
Francesco Neri: Farmers
Hugo Erfurth: Pictures

CD: Concert for August Sander

Further information

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Opening hours and entrance fee

The exhibition opens daily 14-19hrs, closed on Wednesday

Entrance fee 5,50 € (red. 3,00 €)
Entrance free on the first Monday of each month!