Tate Modern

The photographic portfolio: Karl Blossfeldt and Germaine Krull until 17 June 2018

Boiler House Level 4 East

Published in the 1928, Karl Blossfeldt and Germaine Krull ’s photographic portfolios explore the intricate shapes of natural and man-made forms

The photogravure technique – transferring a photograph onto a metal printing plate – allowed their images to be easily reproduced and widely circulated.

Krull’s series Métal was a radical experiment in composition. The works represent an abstract engagement with urban and industrial structures in the Netherlands and France. Focusing on form rather than function, Krull created images that evoke the confusion and simultaneity of the industrial world.

Blossfeldt, a lecturer at an art school in Berlin, believed that the best solutions for industrial design had been anticipated in nature. He took photographs of plants, later published under the collective title Art Forms in Nature, to communicate this idea. Using a homemade camera and magnifying his subject up to thirty times life-size, Blossfeldt revealed the plants’ naturally occurring shapes and structures in extraordinary detail. He created these images as guides for his students; only later were they considered as works of art. Seen alongside Krull’s urban imagery, these plant forms take on a metallic, designed and in some cases industrial appearance.

Both Blossfeldt and Krull compiled their images into photographic portfolios. These loose leaf books could be produced in large numbers using the photogravure printing technique. Their wide circulation helped establish the photographers as artists at the forefront of the international avant-garde.

Curated by Simon Baker and Nathan Ladd

The International Council Gallery Consortium


Tate Modern
London SE1 9TG
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