A Photographic Collection Honoring Karl Blossfeldt

Art and nature, the two great manifestations in the world around us,
are so intimately related that it is impossible to think of one without the other.

- Karl Nierendorf, from an introductory essay
in Karl Blossfeldt, 1865-1932 (Taschen Press)


By chance, I came across the complete published work of Karl Blossfelt. His photographs are memorable, both for their beauty and for the soft look of the gravure printing. Some of Blossfelt’s most striking images are of tendrils. I set out to photograph in his style, in order to better appreciate the symmetry, the subtlety and the sublime nature of plants. Scapes and tendrils are small plant elements, but viewed in large format, they look like sculptures. They also call to mind industrial designs for such things as wrought iron handrails, hand-carved finials, bronze architectural elements.

Scapes are the stalks of garlic plants, which are members of the allium family. The long pliable wands eventually produce buds that open as hundreds of tiny flowers. Typically, scapes are cut off so the plant concentrates on producing the aromatic, edible bulbs. Sometimes they are sold at farmer’s markets.

Tendrils are thin appendages on pumpkin and squash plants. They wind around anything upright and along the ground to anchor the plant and protect it from wind and rain.