2007 - 2008
77 x 58.1 cm
Epson print (Epson Fine Art Paper)
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by the artists
Flüchtender Konstruktivist [Escaping constructivist]
Annual members’ gift, Stiftung für konstruktive und konkrete Kunst 2007
The artist couple Anna Blume (née Helming, born 1937 in Bork, Westphalia, Germany, died 2020 in Cologne, Germany) and Bernhard Johannes Blume (born 1937 in Dortmund, Germany, died 2011 in Cologne, Germany) are predominantly known for their staged artistic photography. They met while studying at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf from 1960 to 1965. Bernhard Blume also studied philosophy at the University of Cologne (1967–1970) and was an art and philosophy teacher for many years, while Anna Blume taught art and crafts.
In the 1980s, the couple began making ironic picture stories that visualize the everyday insanity of petite bourgeois life and question seemingly natural, daily rituals with much humor and anarchy. They always play the main characters in these stories: He is usually dressed in a suit with a hat and tie, while she is usually wearing the clothes of a plain housewife. They portray a decorous world thrown out of kilter in which the protagonists seem helplessly at the mercy of their belongings. Familiar objects take on a life of their own and destroy the familiar order, no longer obeying the laws of gravity: Potatoes threaten the housewife in “Küchenkoller” (1985), plates fly through the kitchen in “Trautes Heim” (1985–1987), and flower vases become hostile toward the surprised man of the house in “Vasenekstase” (1987). The scenes created with the pictorial means of exaggeration and alienation are captured in a series of large black-and-white photographs.
Anna and Bernhard Blume also later explored the possibilities of digital photography, using it as the basis for a reflection – as playful as it is philosophical – on the classic avant-garde, especially Constructivism. They also integrated constructivist sculptural elements and Styrofoam beams – for example, in their series “Abstrakte Kunst” (2000–2004), in which they play with the formal language of Modernism by deconstructing it, only to build it up again. They staged themselves in absurd situations as a way of addressing art history and life itself. Most of their photographs are elaborate productions involving much physical effort. Even as they matured in age, the artists still performed daring stunts with all kinds of materials, also while balancing and climbing – for example, in the sequence “Im Wald” from 1995, in which Bernhard Blume sits on the last branch while his wife is tumbling into the abyss.
In regards to the two protagonists floating and falling, these photographic works are not only performative; they were also clearly influenced by the Fluxus movement in that they are lived and not created with a final material product in mind. They can also be understood as parodies – as photographed caricatures that grew into a “lifelong photo-novel,” as the artists called their work. In their critical and humorous deconstruction of bourgeois and artistic ideals, Anna and Bernhard Blume’s photographic series also share much in common with the subversive impulses of Dadaism.
Dominique von Burg