Masterpieces from the Walther collection n ° 5: “The Age of Plants”


(5/5) Throughout the exhibition, which takes place at the Jeu de Paume in Paris, of the exceptional Walther collection bequeathed to Moma, The Eye of Photography focuses on a particular masterpiece. Today, vegetable typography.

Acanthus is a perennial plant known for its protruding thorns which can be painful. It has therefore quickly symbolized in history the blows that one can receive without expecting it and at the same time the strength to withstand all the trials inherent in life. The plant is also nicknamed “branc-ursine” because it is said to have the shape of a bear’s paw and its fearsome claws, which makes its strange presence even more significant.

It became the great inspiration of the Greek architects who propagated the style of the Corinthian column whose capital marries features similar to the plant photographed here.

May be Karl Blossfeldt knew it, maybe not, but he still had enough foresight to guess that capturing her figure was exciting for our eyes. The German photographer (1865 – 1932) first studied sculpture before becoming a founder in an industrial foundry, already interested in the forms of plants which are like miniature structures of our human architectures. Beginning by learning photography, he began this vast inventory by taking the portrait very closely of the plants that surround us in order to reveal them, as Ernst Haeckel would do with his illustrated plates, the incredible drawing of nature and in at the same time we question our links with it, even in the most urban setting.

In Paris, at the same time, Hector Guimard used the design of plant stems to make the metro entrances, accentuating the art deco beauty of the City of Light and a century resolutely turned towards the sky.

Jean-Baptiste Gauvin

Photographic masterpieces from MoMA

The Thomas Walther collection

From September 14, 2021 to February 13, 2022

Tennis court

1, place de la Concorde

75001 Paris


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