6 September 2014 – 4 January 2015
|Patterns from Nature Photographic Collage, about 1945. © Condé Nast / Horst Estate|
I am pleased to announce that the V&A will be exhibiting several works by the renowned photographer, Horst P. Horst (1906-99) this Autumn/Winter. A master of light, composition and atmospheric illusion, Horst's extraordinary range of work never fails to express a relentless visual curiosity and passion for capturing the beauty in things.
Although there are many dimensions to his dynamic portfolio, for us, I think it is the collection of photographs that make up Horst’s second book 'Patterns from Nature' (1946) that will grab our attention the most as botanical illustrators. In this book we find a surprising diversion from Horst's more glamorous, celebrity-based photographs. Instead we find many images of plants, shells and minerals. Many of these are in black and white and have been taken close-up. This series of images is therefore incredibly striking and appears to be a more personal reflection of Horst's raw experience as a photographer.
This more natural and organic work was apparently partly inspired by Karl Blossfeldt's (1865–1932) photographs of plants . Upon seeing Blossfeldt's images, Horst was struck by ‘their revelation of the similarity of vegetable forms to art forms like wrought iron and Gothic architecture’. Horst’s interest was also linked to the technical purity of ‘photographic seeing’, a philosophy associated with the New Objectivity movement of the 1920s and ’30s. During this time, practitioners would apparently take natural forms out of their context and would study them in such detail that they became unfamiliar, remarkable and unexpected.