The portrait of a plant

Jan 23, 2015, 07:57 IST | Soma Das

Check out fascinating magnified plant portraits by an iconic German photographer in an exhibition, titled Karl Blossfeldt — Art Forms in Nature

A series of iconic vintage photographs await you at Tarq Gallery and are part of the exhibition, titled Karl Blossfeldt — Art Forms in Nature. The exhibition features the works of Karl Blossfeldt (1865–1932), who was a photographer and professor at the Royal School of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin.

Plate 50 from Urformen der Kunst.
Plate 50 from Urformen der Kunst. Pics courtesy/© Karl Blossfeldt/courtesy Tasveer

The event is organised by Tasveer and Tarq, in partnership with Vacheron Constantin and The Singleton of Glen Ord.
Blossfeldt is renowned for his magnified plant portraits, which fused scientific empiricism with sculptural form and design mechanics to reveal abstract forms, patterns and details of organic structures. These photographs were significant to the development of modern photography and transformed the perception of the natural world as well as impacted Western art and architecture.

Plate 45 from Urformen der Kunst
Plate 45 from Urformen der Kunst

A key highlight of the exhibition are the first-time photogravures (photo-mechanical printing) from Blossfeldt’s landmark 1928 publication, Urformen der Kunst (or Art Forms in Nature), which was one of the earliest books to use the photogravure process.
On display at the exhibition will be 50 limited edition prints being showcased for the first time in South Asia.

Plate 94 from Urformen der Kunst
Plate 94 from Urformen der Kunst

Speaking about the exhibition, gallery director Hena Kapadia says, “Europe, in the early 1900s, was a centre for events that altered the history of photographic theory and practice. Blossfeldt, at the centre of this moment, is reflective of the historical transformation. This exhibition highlights his importance within the broader narrative of the history of photography and contextualises the contemporary work that we show.”

Plate 49 from Urformen der Kunst
Plate 49 from Urformen der Kunst

She adds that while the images are traditionally beautiful, and their symmetry will appeal to viewers; they have an intellectual undertone as well.

Interestingly, Blossfeldt did not intend for these photographs to be seen as fine art. “As a student and professor of design, these photographs were meant to be pedagogical tools (to benefit education), and their primary function for many years until he published his book, were as such. However, his unique perspective and compositions, combined with the print quality of the photogravures, come together to build an illusion of solidity and animation, that capitulate them into the sphere of artworks,” concludes Kapadia.

From: January 27 to February 28, 11 am to 6 pm
At: Tarq, Dhanraj Mahal, CSM Marg, Apollo Bunder, Colaba.
Call: 66150424

What are Photogravure prints?
It is an intaglio (image is incised or cut into a surface, and the sunken area holds the ink) printmaking process that reproduces deeper tones with a wider range, closer to a traditional photograph. The images exhibited here are from the unbound folio published in 1928 and are of a richer tone than later editions and considered as the finest of Blossfeldt’s prints.

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