Intricate plant photographs by a celebrated surrealist 1930s artist are featured in Hayward Gallery’s ‘beautiful’ new traveling exhibition in the spring


Karl Blossfeldt: Art Forms in Nature opened in the mezzanine gallery of the Spring Arts and Heritage Center.

The 40 close-up black and white photoengravings in the exhibit were created by German amateur photographer and botanist Blossfeldt (1865-1932), who built homemade cameras and lenses to magnify his subjects up to 30 times .

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Sophie Fullerlove, director of The Spring, at the new exhibition.

Sophie Fullerlove, Director of The Spring, said: “We thought it would be so interesting for our visitors and we contacted the Hayward Gallery, who organized it.

“The Hayward Gallery is internationally renowned, so we are very happy.

“Our team made it beautiful in our space.”

More than just a scientific archive 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 shapes – from geometric points to poetic swirls.

Praised by 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 photoengravings: the white bryony corkscrew, the spiral scorpionweed, the high relief effect of swamp grass.

The exhibition presents 40 photoengravings.

Sophie compares a portrait of a helioscopia spurge to an origami.

“I just think they look so contemporary, like something modern,” she said.

“When you approach them, it really makes you appreciate nature in a different way, appreciate the things that you would normally walk past.”

Prior to the installation of Blossfeldt’s work, the gallery space contained an interactive playroom.

The images are taken from Blossfeldt’s 1932 portfolio ‘Wundergarten der Natur’.

Plasticine was crushed into the carpet, and one wall was covered with Lego while others were decorated with various drawings of young visitors.

“It’s definitely a different feel in this space,” Sophie said.

“This 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 am proud of the exhibit – there is something really special about it.”

The natural forms in Blossfeldt’s photographs are a fitting topic for Havant Big Green Week, which is currently taking place across the borough.

Karl Blossfeldt: Art Forms in Nature is open until Saturday 23 October.

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