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Ann Wilde

Ann Wilde is curator of the Karl Blossfeldt Archive.

Titles by This Editor

Working Collages
Edited by Ann Wilde and Jürgen Wilde

Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932) achieved overnight fame in the late 1920s with the first publication of his photographs of plants. Those photographs, which revealed the inner structures of the organic forms, immediately made him a pioneer of New Objectivity—an innovative movement in art and photography of the 1920s and 1930s. Blossfeldt, however, was neither a trained photographer nor a botanist. He was a sculptor and art professor who did his photographic work to generate teaching material for his students.

The publication of this book is the result of an extraordinary event—the 1997 discovery in Blossfeldt's estate of sixty-one previously unknown collages, in virtually mint condition, of photographic contact prints arranged on large cardboard sheets. Blossfeldt apparently used these to study the relation and similarity of the photographs and to compare them graphically and aesthetically. On some, Blossfeldt had made marks or handwritten notations. Others show lines for cropping. The collages, published here for the first time, unveil a hidden treasure of modern photography and cast fresh light on the systematic approach Blossfeldt used in his photographic studies. All collages are reproduced in four colors.

Introducing the book is an essay by Swiss art historian Ulrike Meyer-Stump, a contributing curator to the exhibitions at the Kunsthaus in Zurich.

Photographer of Objectivity

with text by Thomas Janzon

Albert Renger-Patzsch, together with August Sander and Karl Blossfeldt, was one of the undisputed pioneers of twentieth-century German photography. Indeed, what Sander achieved in portrait photography and Blossfeldt in plant photography, Renger-Patzsch achieved in his renderings of objects and the material world. As a protagonist of the movement that came to be known as Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), he wanted to record, phenomenologically as it were, the exact appearance of objects—their form, material, and surface. Thus he rejected any kind of artistic claim for himself. Believing that the photographer should strive to capture the "essence of the object," he called for documentation rather than art.

Renger-Patzsch's most famous work was the 1928 photo album Die Welt ist Schön (The World Is Beautiful), a catalog of objects that became one of the most influential photography books ever published. His cool and clinical photographs, with their details of technical apparatus, industrial products, and natural organisms, were models of a new kind of artistic vision.

This book contains not only the canonical "Icons of New Objectivity" series—the famous still lifes of Jena glassware, rows of flatirons at a shoe factory, industrial objects, and more—but also Renger-Patzsch's lesser-known but no less engaging photographs of landscapes, architecture, urban scenes, and studies of trees and stones. The book also contains a biography, a bibliography, critical commentary by Thomas Janzon, and selected writings of Renger-Patzsch appearing in English for the first time.