Karl Blossfeldt, Indian Balsam, 1928
Aesthetically I rather love Karl Blossfeldt’s photographs of plants but they’re images I don’t really think about often. Joan Fontcuberta’s Flora series brought them to mind though and has send me back to take a fresh look. The images, made in the early twentieth century are simple close-ups of plant details. There are gorgeous curves, beautiful textures and, above all, weird forms that, while clearly plants, don’t seem quite real.
Joan Fontcuberta, Braohypoda frustrata from Herbarium, 1984
Still firmly back with the best of the shows I saw but failed to write about last year, I find myself wondering how it can possibly be true that I have been writing this blog on and off for three years and I have yet to write about the work of Joan Fontcuberta despite having loved his work for many years. I guess in part it comes down to there not having been a major exhibition of his work here until Stranger than Fiction at the Science Museum, which is now on show at the National Media Museum in Bradford (so even though it’s taken me an age to write about it you haven’t actually missed it yet).
For me there’s a lot to like about Fontcuberta’s work. Firstly, there’s a sense of the absurd running through his practice that I enjoy. In some works the earnestness of the conceit is such that it can take time to peel back the layers and work out what’s fact and what’s fiction; other series are altogether more gentle and, of course, the work is often laugh out loud funny.