Intricate plant photographs by 1930s artist who was celebrated by the Surrealists is showcased in ‘beautiful’ new touring Hayward Gallery exhibition at The Spring
HAVANT’S arts centre is showcasing a series of plant portraits created by a pioneering artist as it welcomes its first ever touring exhibition.
Karl Blossfeldt: Art Forms in Nature has opened in The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre’s mezzanine gallery.
The exhibition’s 40 close-up black and white photogravures were created by German photographer and amateur botanist Blossfeldt (1865-1932), who built homemade cameras and lenses to magnify his subjects by up to 30 times.
Sophie Fullerlove, director of The Spring, said: ‘We thought that it would be so interesting for our visitors, and we contacted the Hayward Gallery, which curated it.
‘The Hayward Gallery is internationally renowned so we’re really pleased.
‘Our team has made it look beautiful in our space.’
More than mere scientific records of flora, the delicate compositions draw attention to the beautiful details of natural forms.
The images in this exhibition, taken from Blossfeldt’s 1932 portfolio ‘Wundergarten der Natur’, capture a wide range of textures and forms - from geometric spikes to poetic swirls.
Lauded by the Surrealists and early modernists, Blossfeldt’s intricate photographs of tiny botanical details were celebrated as revealing an ‘unknown universe’.
Blossfeldt was also a sculptor, and this influence is clear in his photogravures: the corkscrew of white bryony, spiralling scorpionweed, the high relief effect of slough grass.
Sophie compares a portrait of euphorbia helioscopia to origami.
‘I just think they look so contemporary, like something modern,’ she said.
‘When you get up close to them, it really makes you appreciate nature in a different way, appreciate the things you would normally walk past.’
Before Blossfeldt’s work was installed, the gallery space contained an interactive playroom.
Playdough was mashed into the carpet, and one wall was covered in Lego while others were decorated with various young visitors’ drawings.
‘It’s certainly a different feel in this space,’ said Sophie.
‘It is our first visual exhibition in a long time.
‘A new level of quality in terms of our visual work, it looks really good.
‘I’m proud of the exhibition - there’s something really special about it.’
The natural forms of Blossfeldt’s photographs are a fitting subject for Havant Big Green Week, which is currently taking place across the borough.
Karl Blossfeldt: Art Forms in Nature is open until Saturday, October 23.