“New Objectivity” is a term used to describe a sharply focused, documentary approach to photography which emerged in 1920s Europe. In the decade prior, the soft look of pictorialism was the dominant aesthetic practiced by art photographers seeking to emulate the expressive qualities of painting. German artists Albert Renger-Patzsch, August Sander, Karl Blossfeldt, and their counterparts in Europe and the United States moved in the opposite direction and embraced the camera’s mechanical ability to capture the real world in a clear, apparently objective manner. Decades later in Germany, this approach resonated with photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher, who became influential artists and teachers highly regarded for their typological studies of various architectural structures.

Sara Krajewski

(Karl Blossfeldt: Thistle Stem)


Karl Blossfeldt (Germany, 1865–1932)

Thistle Stem. c. 1928, printed 1975

Gelatin silver print

10 1/4 x 8 1/8 in. image size

Henry Art Gallery, Joseph and Elaine Monsen Photography Collection, gift of Joseph and Elaine Monsen and The Boeing Company, 97.26

Copyright 2013 Karl Blossfeldt Archiv / Ann u. Jürgen Wilde, Köln / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY