Anna and Bernhard Blume

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Anna and Bernhard Blume
Known for art photography

Anna and Bernhard Blume refers to the German art photographers Anna Blume (1937) and Bernhard Johannes Blume (8 September 1937 – 1 September 2011). They created sequences of large black-and-white photos of staged scenes in which they appeared themselves, with objects taking on a "life" of their own. The works of Anna and Bernhard Blume have been shown internationally in exhibitions and museums, including MoMA in New York.

Anna Blume[edit]

Born Anna Helming in Bork in 1937, she studied art at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf from 1960 to 1965[1], like her future husband. When they got married in 1966,[2] she enjoyed having the same name as Kurt Schwitters' imaginary figure, Anna Blume. The couple lived and worked together in Cologne.[1] She gave birth to twin girls in 1967.[3] Until 1985 she worked as an art teacher at a gymnasium.[2]

Bernhard Blume[edit]

Bernhard Johannes Blume was born in Dortmund in 1937. He studied art at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf from 1960 to 1965, with Joseph Beuys among others.[1] He also studied philosophy at the University of Cologne from 1967 to 1970.[4] He worked as a teacher of art and philosophy.[2] In 1984 he took part in the exhibition Von hier aus – Zwei Monate neue deutsche Kunst in Düsseldorf. Beginning in 1987 he was Professor für Freie Kunst und Visuelle Kommunikation (professor of free art and visual communication) at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg.[1]

He died in Cologne on 1 September 2011.[5]


Anna and Bernhard Blume together created installations, sequences of large photo scenes and, mostly in the 1990s, Polaroids. Both created drawings.[1] They staged and photographed scenes in which they appeared themselves, with objects taking on a "life" of their own.[6] According to the Deutsche Börse Group, their process is to create their picture sequences together and complete all related tasks without outside help. This includes designing the sets and costumes, developing the negatives, and producing enlargements; at each stage the artwork is refined, polished and painted. Anna has said: "Wir malen mit der Kamera, und diese malerische Arbeit findet auch noch im Labor statt." (We paint with our camera, and this painterly work continues in the lab, too.) The images were produced without the aid of digital manipulation or post-production montages. Taking pictures of a "flying, crashing, and swirling world", the artists used safety features such as ropes, nets and mattresses.[4]

Their sequence Vasenekstasen (Vase Extasy) has been shown at the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt. In 1989 MoMA in New York presented their works in a solo show, including Küchenkoller (Kitchen Frenzy, 1986), Opposites D (1989) and Demonstrative Identification with the universe (1971).[7]

In 2004 their Polaroids of 1988 to 2000 were published as a book, Das Glück ist ohne Pardon / Joy knows no mercy. They treated the genre of the artist's self-portrait to a transformation, distorting their faces with trivial objects such as coat hangers and household utensils, in order to "put to rest the myth of the portrait and the autonomy of the subject it seeks to convey."[8]

Several works have been exhibited at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne,[9] which in 2005 showed Kreuzweg (Stations of the Cross), a sequence from Transzendentaler Konstruktivismus (Transcendental Constructivism), in connection with the World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne.[10][11]

In 2008 Reine Vernunft (Pure Reason) was presented at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin.[12] It was their first comprehensive appearance in the capital. According to the museum, the works provide "an overview of the ironical and philosophical strategy of this artistic team", and show "intensive dedication to a continuous process of self-experimentation", with the Blumes having "performed groundwork on the nature of German existence", by investigating "'home sweet home' for every conceivable form of misery" rather than entering the wider world.[13]

In 2009 their work appeared in the Berlin Gropiusbau at the exhibition "Sixty years. Sixty works", commemorating the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Federal Republic of Germany.[14]

In 2010 several works were shown at the Kunstmuseum Bonn in "Der Westen leuchtet / Eine Standortbestimmung der Kunstlandschaft des Rheinlandes" (The Luminous West / A site assessment of the art landscape in the Rhineland), presenting artists of the Rhineland.[15]

In 2011, the first exhibition of their work after the death of Bernhard Blume, "Trans-Skulptur" in Berlin, was introduced by their friend Bazon Brock.[16]

Selected works[edit]

This list of titles and translations is based on the listing for Anna and Bernhard Blume by the Museums of North Rhine-Westphalia.[2]

  • 1977 Ödipale Komplikationen? (Oedipal Complications?)
  • 1977 Fliegender Teppich (Flying Carpet)
  • 1984 Wahnzimmer (Delusion Chamber)
  • 1985 Küchenkoller (Kitchen Frenzy)
  • 1985/86 Trautes Heim (Sweet Home)
  • 1987 Vasenekstasen (Vase Extasy)
  • 1986 Mahlzeit (Meal)
  • 1982–90 Im Wald (In the Forest)
  • 1990 gegenseitig (Opposites), Polaroids
  • 1994/95 Transzendentaler Konstruktivismus (Transcendental Constructivism)
  • 2003/04 Abstrakte Kunst (Abstract Art)
  • 2004 Das Glück ist ohne Pardon / Joy knows no mercy (book)

Selected exhibitions[edit]


See also[edit]

Literature and sources[edit]

  • Catalogue of documenta 6
    • Vol. 1: "Malerei, Plastik/Environment, Performance"
    • Vol. 2: "Fotografie, Film, Video"
    • Vol. 3: "Handzeichnungen, Utopisches Design, Bücher". Kassel 1977 ISBN 3-920453-00-X
  • Honnef, Klaus: 150 Jahre Fotografie (Erweiterte Sonderausgabe von Kunstforum International: 150 Jahre Fotografie III / Fotografie auf der documenta 6, Band 22); Mainz, Frankfurt am Main (Zweitausendeins) 1977


  1. ^ a b c d e "Anna und Bernhard Blume" (in German). 2011. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Anna und Bernhard Blume". 2011. Archived from the original on 28 March 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  3. ^ Catalogue of documenta 6 (in German). documenta. 1977. 
  4. ^ a b "Anna und Bernhard Blume". Deutsche Börse Group. 2011. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  5. ^ Ingeborg Ruthe (3 September 2011). "Das Aufmucken der Dinge / Der Kölner Neo-Dadaist Bernhard Blume ist nach schwerer Krankheit gestorben" (in German). Berliner Zeitung. Retrieved 5 September 2011. 
  6. ^ Ingeborg Ruthe (3 September 2011). "Fotograf Bernhard Blume gestorben" (in German). dpa. Retrieved 5 September 2011. 
  7. ^ "Bernhard Blume". Museum of Modern Art. 2011. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  8. ^ "Joy Knows No Mercy". Hatje Cantz Publishers Ostfildern-Ruit / New York. 2004. Retrieved 5 September 2011. 
  9. ^ "Collections Media Art". Museum Ludwig. 2011. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  10. ^ "Exhibitions Archive". Museum Ludwig. 2011. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  11. ^ "Religion und Kirche im Museum Ludwig / Ausstellungen von Christoph Schlingensief und Anna & Bernhard Blume". Köln. 16 August 2005. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  12. ^ Eric Aichinger (19 May 2008). "Die fliegenden Teller der reinen Vernunft" (in German). Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  13. ^ "Anna & Bernhard Blume. Reine Vernunft". Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. 2008. Archived from the original on 29 September 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2011. 
  14. ^ "Sixty years. Sixty works". 2009. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  15. ^ "Der Westen leuchtet". Kunstmuseum Bonn. 2010. Retrieved 5 September 2011. 
  16. ^ "Anna & Bernhard Blume: Aktionsmetaphern Nov 4, 2011 - Jan 21, 2012". 2011. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  17. ^ "Malerei mit der Kamera" (in German). Berliner Morgenpost. 6 December 2010. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 

External links[edit]