Karl Blossveldt Urformen der Kunst


It’s that time of the year when we are likely to have more opportunity than usual to soak up the good stuff, recharge, reflect, and be inspired.

Do you know what it is that inspires you?

Words on paper? Colours in profusion or muted with little contrast? Wondrous imagery of flora or fauna? Fine art of a specific genre? Gastronomic delights? It may be a bit or all of these things or none. You will have your own list.

This is one of the questions that I look to understand at the beginning of a project with a client. I need to understand what inspires them. More than this it’s important to understand the tone of the inspiration.

I think of the home as a sanctuary. It’s that place that we can relax and feel protected from the battering of the outside world. More than this it is the place that you should feel your most inspired. If you know what moves you to action, what leads you forward in a stream of good energy then why not reflect that in your home in various ways?

There is a trick to this not presenting itself naively and that is where it becomes an art form in itself. It’s knowing how to represent it smartly.

I have a string of inspiring go-tos. Here is one that you may not have come across: Karl Blossveldt (1865 – 1932). He was a German Photographer, sculptor and art teacher who is best known for his photographs of flora.

Karl Blossveldt

I cannot help be inspired every time I look at the images in his first publication Urformen der Kunst (Art Forms in Nature), published in 1928! He forces us to see the world of vegetation anew through his highly original form of representation.

The flower or seed pod is no longer just that – it becomes architectural, monolithic or supremely delicate. He created this magnificent body of work by using a series of self-made homemade cameras which could magnify to 300 times the subject matter. Impressively he had no formal training.

Georgina O'Keef exhibition

Jemson Weed/White Flower No. 1 1832 Crystal Bridges museum.

And today I am taking my two beautiful children to see Georgia O’Keefe at the Tate Modern. Our city, and the world beyond,  is littered with inspirational opportunities.

Georgia O’Keefe, the most well-renowned of  modern American painters,  is most famous for her larger than life botanical paintings of flowers and it’s interesting to note that she was producing these, now world famous, botanical paintings at the same sort of time that Karl Blossveldt published his iconic Urformen der Kunst.

Where did their inspirations, on opposite sides of the globe, to magnify these beautiful specimens come from, I wonder? Does this story support the case for the power of collective consciousness? I’d like to discover more on that – what I know for sure is that what they were doing then has created many inspirational waves for close on eight decades. Inspiring indeed!