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Magnolia Blossom, 1925 (printed 1971)

Imogen Cunningham

American, 1883-1976
Gelatin silver print
Image: 8-3/4 x 11 in. (22.2 x 27.9 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Gift of the Artist to the Blue Four Galka Scheyer Collection
© 2008 Imogen Cunningham Trust

Not on view

Justly noted as one of Imogen Cunningham’s most famous plant photographs, Magnolia Blossom embodies the idea of “nature as art.” The radiant flower is presented close up, cropped and tilted forward like a presentation piece. A soft light suffuses the blossom and gently caresses each petal, yielding information about its surfaces and textures. It is impossible to imagine what could be added or subtracted from this paragon of natural beauty. Handsomely crafted photographs like this, essentially studies in pure design by Cunningham, were included in “Film und Foto,” the influential exhibition mounted in Stuttgart in 1929 that presented avant-garde photography, heralding a new era for the medium.

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