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 11, 2019 - Mar 15, 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.   

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

Photography at deCordova

This fall 2019 deCordova will be showcasing a series of photography and photo-related exhibitions. Spanning all of the museum's galleries, these shows will promote a far-reaching, trans-historical examination of photography’s enduring social and artistic impact. This expansive focus on photography represents a culmination, thus far, of deCordova’s investment in the photographic arts. deCordova began exhibiting photography a year after the museum’s founding with an exhibition of work by Jules Aarons in 1951. The museum’s commitment to the medium strengthened in the 1980s when it began collecting photographs for its permanent collection and increased the number of temporary photography exhibitions in its galleries. The permanent collection now numbers over 1,500 photographs and includes works by Harold Edgerton, Nan Goldin, Lee Friedlander, Erin Shirreff, Charles “Teenie” Harris, and Irving Penn. The permanent collection continues to expand largely due to the generosity of donors and artists, particularly those with strong connections to New England.