Anna and Bernhard Blume

Constructive Chaos

In Anna and Bernhard Blume’s world, order prevails. She takes her place, complete with decorative dress, in the kitchen, surrounded by plates, cups, and jugs. He, wearing a fine plaid jacket, concerns himself with technical devices. Yet, this selfsame world is also one of complete chaos. The compulsion to play roles causes towers of cups to sway, people to fly around, their faces distorted, and furniture constructions to collapse.

The Blumes focus on the metaphors attached to objects, for the latter are laden down with convention. They explore everyday objects as a symptom of the times – of the age when they were youngsters and of the age in which we all now live. In the tradition of performance art, the home of both artists, this process of questioning also entails relishing a situation in which all is set in flux or even “smashed up”, as Bernhard Blume puts it. This is not to suggest their work is destructive: "Our wish was and is always just to relativize different levels of order.” And the Blumes present this by means in their very own ironic and sarcastic way.

Anna and Bernhard Blume always devise their picture sequences jointly and always do all the work themselves: from designing the sets and costumes, via taking the shots of each other, through to developing the negatives and producing enlargements. During each of these steps, the artwork is continuously refined, polished, and painted. “We paint with our camera,“ Anna Blume avers, "and this painterly work continues in the lab, too.“ However, their black-and-white photo series do not involve digital manipulation or montage. Instead, they really do involve a flying, crashing, and swirling world. In order to take what are in fact quite dangerous photographs, the artists make use of securing ropes, safety nets, mattresses, etc.

Only 10 or 15 years ago, Anna and Bernhard Blume staged with great artistry settings emphasizing the independent life objects appear to assume. In the computer age, this magic behavior by objects, which suddenly seem alive, has become part of the customary idiom of an entire genre of mystery films, sci-fi stories, and the like. “In a certain sense, we were possibly pioneers of a world of perception which today is the domain of an entire film industry,” the artists say, with a twinkle in their eyes.

Biographical information

1937

Anna Blume was born in Bork/Westfalen
Bernhard Blume was born in Dortmund

1965

both studied at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf

1970

Bernhard Blume studied philosophy at the Universität Köln

since 1987

Anna Blume has been a guest lecturer at several art colleges
Bernhard Blume was professor at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Hamburg

both have lived and worked in Cologne since 1967 and since 1987 in Hamburg as well

2011

Bernhard Blume died in Cologne