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Dipsacus laciniatus (Cutleaf Teasel)

Karl Blossfeldt German

Not on view

One might expect to find the ornate form in this photograph in the upper reaches of a Gothic church, adorning a column or topping a spire. Its spiky projections are as crisply articulated as if cut from stone. A professor of decorative arts in Berlin, Karl Blossfeldt was fascinated by the ways in which architectural motifs reveal themselves in the natural world. Using specially made cameras outfitted with magnifying lenses, he captured the shapes and patterns miniaturized in the structures of stems, buds, and leaves. His best-selling book, Art Forms in Nature (1928), quickly became a touchstone for photographers, like László Moholy-Nagy, who were then exploring the capacity of new vantage points and camera technologies to transform modern vision.

Dipsacus laciniatus (Cutleaf Teasel), Karl Blossfeldt (German, 1865–1932), Gelatin silver print

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