Anna Blume, Pioneering Maker of Action-Packed, Droll Photographs, Has Died at 84

Claire Selvin


June 23, 2020 4:07pm

Anna Blume at Art Basel in 2019.COURTESY PETER FREEMAN, INC.

Anna Blume, a German artist who collaborated with her husband, Bernhard, in creating experimental photographs, has died at age 84. Best known for their black-and-white prints and polaroid collages, the Blumes captured dynamic and oftentimes amusing and theatrical scenes featuring interactions with sculptures, trees, and everyday objects.

Reached by ARTnews, Peter Freeman, Inc., a New York–based gallery that represents Blume, confirmed the artist’s death but did not share a cause of death.

Anna Blume was born in Bork, Germany, in 1936, and she studied at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf during the 1960s, when Joseph Beuys joined the faculty there. She met Bernhard, who died in 2011, at the Kunstakademie and the pair married in 1966. They were based in Cologne throughout their career.

Among the couple’s most notable works was Kitchen Frenzy (1986), which the artists began in 1980. The gelatin silver prints that make up the piece, which is part of the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, pokes fun at suburban German middle-class life. Depicting Blume herself, the series of images show a domestic scene devolve into a blurry chaos, with potatoes flying sporadically around a room.

“We paint with our camera, and this painterly work continues in the lab, too” she once said.

In an email to friends and colleagues, Peter Freeman said of Anna, “Her work, and that with Bernhard, continue to bring joy to many.”

Anna and Bernhard’s work was the subject of a presentation at the gallery in 2016. The show, titled “Scenes from a Photo-Novel,” was their first solo exhibition in New York since a 1989 outing at the Museum of Modern Art. Among the pieces that figured in the gallery exhibition were the photographic works Hänsel und Gretel (1990/1991), Küchenkoller (1985/2016), Mahlzeit (1989), and Transzendentaler Konstrukt (1992/2016), along with the watercolor on paper Zeichnungen (Natürlich) (A), ca. 1992.

The couple’s work was included in major international exhibitions, including Documenta 6 in Kassel in 1977, and shows at the Kunsthalle Baselthe in 1987, the Hamburger Bahnhofthe in Berlin in 2002, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne in 2005, and elsewhere. Their pieces can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in Texas, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and more institutions.


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