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Eternal Bloom: Harald Altmaier

Eternal Bloom: Harald Altmaier

I have known Harald for over thirty years; the only person who could teach Joseph about flowers and who, if ever Joe was feeling down, would be able to transform him into a smiling joyous ball of energy with his magical flower arrangements, even a visit to Pulbrook (cigar in hand) would elevate thweek. At Joe’s funeral we filled the house with roses, albeit against Jewish tradition, but Harald and I knew that was exactly what he would have wanted to look down on. My friend is an artist, a creator of beauty and mood with nature and colour and every Christmas he still decorates the Connolly shop for me. And so when he shyly showed me this beautiful image of an arrangement he had created and photographed at his studio, I was completely blown away and determined to hold his first show at the Gallery upstairs at Clifford Street.

- Isabel 

Eternal Bloom: Harald Altmaier

“Eternal Bloom” is a stunning photographic exploration of grandeur, style and elegance which is rooted in the tradition of early 17th century Northern European still life painting. 

The art of floristry. The art of photography; of capturing a moment and of turning that moment into a monument. Altmaier’s towering photographic tableaux of his floral creations bloom from that Northern European still life painting.They invite the viewer to stay still, to look very closely and to luxuriate in the vitality of their living nature, from ephemeral to eternal as we are drawn into the very heart of each flower.  Harald Altmaier is a German-born photographer and florist. His experience as a bespoke floral designer in Australia with Kevin O’Neill and then as creative director of one of England’s most established florists, Pulbrook & Gould, is the foundation for these exuberant artworks. A master of Fine Art Photography, Harald not only curates every aspect of these highly detailed compositions, but his tableaux are also carefully staged scenes that tell a thought-provoking narrative through visual cues and symbolism which imbue the work with a sense of awe and mystery that leaves the viewer wanting more and looking deeper.The result is large scale, cinematic visual storytelling that incorporates floristry, colour and iconography in the same way as the early Dutch still life paintings.  

What is incredible about these images, is that Harald is master of both subject and medium. Harald not only has to master the ar t of floral arranging in these photographs, but every aspect of these compositions has to be curated and photographed in a very tight time frame. From the abundance and choice of flora, the ranges of colour and texture, minute details artfully lit to painterly effect, all have to retain their freshness and luminosity before the flowers shift and alter, then wither and fade. With advanced lighting techniques and the best photographic equipment and huge physical energy, Harald’s large-scale compositions take the art of floral design and photography to new heights creating images that are at once transient, beautiful and eternal.

The Tradition

History of still life painting in Northern Europe, exert from an essay by Walter Liedtke, department of European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

'In general, the rise of still-life painting in the Northern and Spanish Netherlands (mainly in the cities of Antwerp, Middelburg, Haarlem, Leiden, and Utrecht) reflects the increasing urbanization of Dutch and Flemish society, which brought with it an emphasis on the home and personal possessions, commerce, trade, learning—all the aspects and diversions of everyday life. Floral still lifes were especially prominent in the early 1600s, and in their highly refined execution and in their subjects and symbolism were addressed to a cultivated audience. Painters such as Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, Balthasar van der Ast, Roelandt Savery, and Jacob Vosmaer often referred to herbals and other botanical texts when composing "bouquets" (like Vosmaer’s AVase of Flowers;), which typically combined flowers from different countries and even different continents in one vase and at one moment of blooming. For many courtly collectors (for example, Emperor Rudolf II in Prague) and wealthy merchants, a flower picture was part of a private domain that included a garden with rare specimens (which occasionally cost more than paintings of them), coloured drawings or watercolours of rare tulips and other unusual flowers, and a small library of botanical books and prints.'

An exhibition of large scale photographs by Harald Altmaier.

Thursday 27th April - Thursday 31st August