Nature and metaphysics are momentous themes in both German and in European culture as a whole. This was not least the case during nineteenth-century romanticism, where many artists instilled their landscapes with mystical qualities borrowed from religion and the realms of wonderment. In their wideranging photographic composition Metaphysics Is Men’s Work, the artist couple Anna and Bernhard Blume let people and nature meet in a way that hardly evokes metaphysics and romanticism, but rather the slapstick humour of silent movies. Men and women hover around, fall down, and are thrown together with uprooted tree trunks. Their straightlaced Sunday best clothes seem ill-suited to exploring the great outdoors, and the title sets up an ironic contrast to what is actually going on in the work.
Anna and Bernhard Blume met while studying at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf. In their art they are interested in depicting the fleeting, the subjective, and the absurd through photographs. They use neither digital effects nor assistants, but rope, mattresses, and other physical aids to bring about their naturedefying compositions. Their depiction of a transient, chaotic world contrasts sharply with the works of Hilla and Bernd Becher, the other famous German couple of the era’s photographic art, who are also represented in the museum’s collection. The Bechers instead worked serially and in a more sober, documentary style.
Text: Audun Eckhoff
From "Highlights. Art from 1945 to the Present", Nasjonalmuseet 2016, ISBN 978-82-8154-116-0