The medium of photography seems to be the absolute perfect medium for capturing the fleeting nature of blooms and blossoms. It is no surprise that as early as the late nineteenth century, that process veered into an artistic interpretation of nature's most precious gifts.
Karl Blossfeldt (1865 – 1932) worked as a photographer, sculptor, teacher, and artist in Berlin, Germany. He is best known for his close-up photographs of plants and living things, published in 1929 as, Urformen der Kunst. He was inspired by nature and the ways in which plants grow and believed that the plant must be valued as a totally artistic and architectural structure. He even developed a series of home-made cameras that allowed him to photograph plant surfaces in unprecedented magnified detail.
Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976) occupies a singular position in the history of American art of the twentieth century. For over half the history of photography, she explored- with innovation and a new perspective- all the major traditions associated with the medium as fine art. She is most widely acclaimed for the photographs made during the 1920s and 1930s, particularly close-up images of plants and nudes. She also made portraits which are now considered classics in photography, including images of Alfred Stieglitz, Spencer Tracy, and Martha Graham. Cunningham was a member of the California-based Group f/64, known for its dedication to the sharp-focus rendition of simple subjects.
Irving Penn (1917 – 2009) was an American photographer known for his fashion photography, portraits, and still lifes. Penn's career included work at Vogue magazine, as well as independent advertising work. In 1967, art director Alexander Liberman commissioned him to shoot a still life series of flowers for the December edition of American Vogue. Using his signature compositional clarity, the influential image-maker eschewed the sentimentality so commonly associated with blooms, for a stark focus on structure, texture, palette and anatomical function. The result is iconic and unforgettable.
Robert Mapplethorpe (1946 – 1989) is known for his sensitive yet blunt treatment of controversial subject-matter in the large-scale, highly stylized black and white medium of photography. His floral still lifes, a series of up-close photographs of the beautiful, hairy blooms in all of their fragility and vivid power, draw on a rich and storied history of artists depicting flora – and yet, they’re also in possession of an intense and magnetic sensuality.
Renowned San Francisco gallery Modernism will join the San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show this year. Among their offerings will be the work of Robert Stivers (1975), whose successful career as a professional dancer was abruptly thrown to a halt when he suffered a traumatic back injury, shifting his artistic focus to choreography, and then ultimately to photography. Rebecca Klein from Picture Magazine writes: “Robert’s out-of-focus photography technique has separated him as a unique and innovative photographer. In the beginning, this decision to print soft focus images was a means of breaking away from conventional photography techniques. Now, it has become a way of expressing himself within themes such as loss, memory, rapture, eroticism, death and rebirth. His methodology has grabbed the attention of many, and his talent is eminent. Robert Stivers is one of the best fine art photographers living today.”
Big Rose, 2012. Signed & dated verso, uniquely toned gelatin silver print; No. 3 of Edition: 15
Sunflower, 2010. Signed & dated verso, uniquely toned gelatin silver print; No. 10 of Edition: 15