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Title: Karl Blossfeldt: Variations - A Study in Image Replication
Authors: Meyer Stump, Ulrike
Advisors: McCauley, Anne
Contributors: Art and Archaeology Department
Keywords: decorative arts
Karl Blossfeldt
Subjects: Art history
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The unique body of work produced by Karl Blossfeldt (1865–1932) consists of thousands of photographs of astonishing stylistic consistency that reproduce highly enlarged plant details. Created at the end of the nineteenth century, first as scientific illustrations for the decorative-arts reformer Moritz Meurer (1839–1916) and later used as teaching materials for Blossfeldt’s own “Modeling after Living Plants” class, with the publication in 1928 of Urformen der Kunst (Art Forms in Nature, 1929) they became world famous as art photographs. Karl Blossfeldt: Variations—A Study in Image Replication analyzes the genesis and replication of Blossfeldt’s botanical motifs in teaching materials, pattern books, art books, exhibitions, and in the pages of the illustrated press. The dissertation argues that the extraordinary proliferation of Blossfeldt’s plant images in the late 1920s was due not only to a fascination with plant forms, but also to the increasing interest in comparative viewing, parallelisms, analogs, and repetition. The six chapters of the study trace the paths Blossfeldt’s legendary plant motifs pursued as specimens, illustrations, patterns, analogs, models, and abstractions from 1892 to 1945 (in which year they appeared in Raymond Lecuyer’s Histoire de la photographie, thus no longer as contemporary works but as a part of history). Major topics explored in this first book-lenth monograph on Blossfeldt include theories of ornament and the doctrines of Jugendstil; the photobook in the Weimar Republic; Surrealism, British Modernism, and biomorphic abstraction. The dissertation also examines the enthusiasm with which the images were greeted in the interwar period in the popular mass media and in National Socialist circles. The rediscovery of Blossfeldt’s motifs in the architecture, photography and design of the past twenty years highlights the adaptability of the images’ formal austerity and Blossfeldt’s scientistic approach–at once minimalist and yet grounded in the natural–to recent interests in the typological and the ornamental.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology

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