Nearly a century ago, in 1926, the electron microscope was a brand new phenomenon that took the world by storm. With a beam of accelerated electrons, it can achieve magnifications up to 10M times in size, illuminating infinite worlds never known before. It was in that same year that German graphic designer Carl Strüwe made his first photograph through a microscope. With the eye of an artist rather than a scientist, Strüwe recorded the formal genius of Nature in all her glory, revealing the glorious rhythms, patterns, and shapes that are both biological in design and captivating in aesthetic.
A self-taught photographer, Strüwe dedicated the next three decades of his life to Formen des Mikrokosmos (Forms of the Microcosmos), which resulted in a set of 280 microphotographs, and in a 1955 book of that name. His intensive study, which concluded in 1959, elevated microphotography to an art. In Strüwe’s work, we see a bridge to abstract art in a space mediated by Nature herself as order emerges from the chaos.
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Photo: Carl Strüwe. Plankton. Upper: Algae colony (Asterionella), lower: 2 Volvox colonies, 1952. Gelatin silver print, printed late 1950s 23 5/8 x 19 11/16 in. Edition 1 of 2; Titled and stamped by photographer verso. Courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery, New York.