All the Marvelous Surfaces: Photography Since Karl Blossfeldt

Karl Blossfeldt, Urformen der Kunst (page 41), 1928/29, photogravure, 10 1/4 x 8
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On View Oct 12, 2019 - Mar 29, 2020
Exhibition Location: Museum

Joyce and Edward Linde Gallery, 2nd Floor Galleries

This group exhibition is inspired by German photographer Karl Blossfeldt’s acclaimed Art Forms in Nature (1928), a collection of magnified plant specimens that immediately enthralled viewers with exquisite details of curling flower petals and the fractal growth of leaves. Originally used as models for craft and design students, this body of work is now considered one of the finest photographic projects of the early twentieth century. All the Marvelous Surfaces reorients photography through Blossfeldt’s focus on patterning, scale, and surface detail, establishing his impact on the evolution of modern and contemporary photographic practices. The show delves into issues such as biases against ornamentation, the rise of surrealist estrangement, and the intersections of photography and sculpture throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Drawn mainly from deCordova’s permanent collection, the artists on view range from mid-century masters such as Aaron Siskind and Harold Edgerton to contemporary figures who are advancing the photographic medium today, including Ellen Carey, Matt Saunders, and Erin Shirreff.   

Artists included in the show: David Akiba, Lucas Blalock, Karl Blossfeldt, Doug Bosch, Stephen Brigidi, Maryjean Viano Crowe, Harold Edgerton, Lalla Essaydi, Audrey Flack, Hilary French, Corin Hewitt, Henry Horenstein, Lucy Kim, Justin Kimball, Michael Kolster, Calvin Kowal, Salvatore Mancini, Abelardo Morell, Yamini Nayar, Matt Saunders, Gary Schneider, Kahn/Selesnick, Erin Shirreff, Aaron Siskind, Neal Slavin, Edward Steichen, and Bradford Washburn.

Organized by Sarah Montross, Senior Curator, with Elizabeth Upenieks, Curatorial Assistant.

Photosynthesis at deCordova

Photography has long benefitted from assumptions that it faithfully documents our world. The medium’s supposed neutrality is particularly unquestioned when used for scientific study or journalistic purposes. Upending these assumptions, Photosynthesis encompasses a suite of exhibitions at deCordova spanning diverse topics from botanical design to land art, news reportage to photo-conceptualism—fields that have relied on photography’s ability to zoom, crop, and manipulate objects of study to provide detailed visual evidence. The three exhibitions that form Photosynthesis look back to photography’s origins and foundational artists and photojournalists to contextualize contemporary notions of nature, photography, and truth. (See also: Truthiness and the News and Peter Hutchinson: Landscapes of My Life)

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Art Nouveau Mosaic Workshop
Wednesdays, December 4 and 11, 6:30–9 pm

Inspired by exhibition artworks and Karl Blossfeldt’s art nouveau influences, create a nature-inspired mosaic in this two-session workshop with artist Emily Bhargava. REGISTER

Japanese Floral Arranging: An Ikebana Workshop
Thursday, February 13, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Inspired by the plants in Blossfeldt's photorgraphs. Come experience a new way or arranging flowers with our ikebana workshop. Led by Joanne Callevello, President of the Ikebana International Boston Chapter, you will learn the history, styles, and concepts of ikebana arranging. The program fee covers all necessary materials, allowing you to take your new creations home. Sales Closed.

Impossibly Life-Like: A Talk on the Blaschka Glass Flower Collection
Thursday, March 5, 6:30pm - 7:30pm

Much like Karl Blossfeldt's magnified photos of plants, father and son due Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka created anatomically correct glass models of plants for study. Come learn about Harvard's collection of Blaschka glass flowers as Jennifer Brown, Collection Mangager, discusses how they were made, the history of the collection, and the public's endless fascination with them. REGISTER

Tearing it Up: A Curator-Led Gallery Talk on Collage
Thursday, March 12, 6:30pm - 7:30pm

Equal parts destructive and constructive, collages place images in new context and relations, often disrupting their assumed meanings. Join Koch Curatorial Fellow Sam Adams and Curatorial Assistant Elizabeth Upenieks for an in-depth tour of some of the most elaborate and dense collages on view in deCordova's three concurrent photography exhibitions. REGISTER