The plant photographs of Karl Blossfeldt (1865–1932) are world-renowned today. In contrast, what is still largely unknown is that their origins play a part in the history of Berlin’s Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts). Blossfeldt did not produce his photographs as art photography, but as elements of a collection of teaching aids. Moritz Meurer (1839–1916), a teacher at the Kunstgewerbeschule (Arts and Crafts School) affiliated with the museum, brought attention to studies of plants with these photographs in the 1890s. Models, herbaria, charts and photographs were to be used to penetrate the laws for developing natural forms and to renew the theory of design.
For the first time, the catalogue and exhibition bring the teaching aids together as an ensemble and illustrate their impressive formal aesthetic and media diversity. They are shown in the context of opulent ornamentation and template graphics, Art Nouveau objects and the imagery of contemporary botany.