Anna & Bernhard Blume!!

I was introduced to Anna & Bernhard Blume by my professor Barry Perlus in 1987, and I was immediately taken with their astounding humor and skill.  Having some insight about my outlook on the world and love of performance, Barry knew I would find a connection here and boy did I ever. The Blume’s are a wonderful example of living and working artfully. Every year I make a point of introducing my photography students at NESOP to Anna and Bernhard’s work with the sole purpose of lightening them up.  Art school (and art making in general) can be such an intense experience and things can get too heavy too fast.  The antidote is Anna & Bernhard Blume!

Anna Blume was born in 1937 in BorkWestfalen, Bernhard Johannes Blume, 1937 in Dortmund.The artists live and work together inCologne.

From 1960 to 1965, both were studying at the National Art Academy Düsseldorf, where they met, Bernhard Blume also from 1967 to 1970 Philosophy at the University of Cologne. – 1967 birth of the twins, Anna and Hedwig (Jr). – Anna Blume (Sen.) was until 1985, and works as an art teacher working at a Cologne high school; Bernhard Blume at the same time as an art and philosophy teacher. – 1984 Bernard takes part in the group exhibition from here – two months of new German art in Dusseldorf. From 1987 Bernhard Blume worked as a professor of fine arts and visual communications at the College of Fine Arts in Hamburg. – It is still the center of life of the artist couple, the city of Cologne.

Below is a review from a show in 1996

Anna and Bernhard Blume: Photo-Works

AfterimageSept-Oct, 1996 by K. Johnson Bowles

The 10 photo installations are monumental, billboard-size graphic novels that fill a cavernous, columned, long open hall of the Milwaukee Art Museum. The images document a performance of pathological disorientation and the ecstasy of the oblivious state of mind of tourists and the German lower-middle class. As both director and actor, the Blumes dress up in the stereotypical garb of the lower-middle class and photograph themselves. Like any performance it is best to encounter the Blumes’ work in person. Though clearly necessary, since there is no English language documentation of the Blumes’ work, the catalog is for the most part disappointing, visually and verbally. The images are reproduced with far more contrast than the original prints and the translation of the Blumes’ artist statements is questionably arch and borders on the simple-minded. For example, Anna Blume’s assertion about Home Sweet Home:

Today’s observations, mental and visual, are again what we call a photo-document. Fundamentally it was produced in my kitchen, and in space. Quite casually, of course! Since the last kitchen rage, potato chaos, French fries disaster we have been prepared for extraordinary events, in other words: the camera was there this time as well!. . .

Putting aside the artists’ statements for a moment, let us focus on the exhibition and the essays by Sobel, Bamberger, Brock and Kasprzik. In Waldeslust (Forest Pleasures, 1982-83) Anna wears a loudly patterned floral dress. Her hair is a hair-sprayed helmet. Bernhard wears a plaid jacket, dress shirt (buttoned all the way up without a tie) and dress slacks, and holds Anna’s large white pocketbook. They smile a big toothy grin as they pose in front of an acid rain devastated forest for a snapshot record of their holiday. They seem almost proud and clearly unaware of the death that surrounds them. Their inappropriate dress clearly points at their ignorance of and inability to relate to nature. The absurdity of their pose and expressions is mind-boggling and disturbing. The work’s humor is angry and cynical, evoking an echoing laughter from viewers.

More information here:

Anna & Bernhard Blume From A to Z

Anna and Bernhard Blume


Anna and Bernhard Blume2


Bernard Blume died in September 2011. I am still looking for information on Anna.

Here is a nice slide show put together by Ana Shakespeare


~ by Stephen Sheffield on February 26, 2010.

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