Laszlo Moholy-Nagy




Laszlo Moholy-Nagy


American, born Hungary, 1895-1946

Laszlo Moholy-Nagy

Laszlo Moholy-Nagy possessed one of the liveliest and most versatile minds to come out of the revolution in artistic thinking that occurred in Europe after the First World War.

In addition to being a painter, designer, and photographer, Moholy was perhaps the most persuasive and effective theoretician of the concept of art education that grew out of the Bauhaus, the experimental design school that flowered briefly in Germany during the days of the Weimar Republic.



Laszlo Moholy-Nagy

Through his own work, his teaching and writing, and through the influence of his colleagues and followers at the Chicago Institute of Design (which Moholy founded in 1938), his ideas have had a profound effect on the art and art theory of the past generation.

In none of the areas of his concern has his influence been greater than in photography. His deep interest in the photogram and the photomontage, techniques that stood as a halfway house between photography and painting, provided a challenging option to the doctrine of straight photography, which, especially in the United States, dominated serious photography.



Laszlo Moholy-Nagy

Nevertheless, Moholy's own straight photography was extremely interesting and distinctive. It was in fact straight only in the technical sense that the pictures were unmanipulated prints of images recorded by the camera; in terms of the perception that the photographs recorded, they were ambiguous, contrary, and wittily devious.

Moholy's love of the camera was based on the fact that it demonstrated so persuasively that nothing was as it seemed. Judged by academic standards, his photographs were outrageously bad. Inevitably, the normal subject of the picture was half lost in a maze of apparently accidental forms, distorted by unfamiliar perspectives, and framed as though the photographer had not finally decided what his subject really was.



Laszlo Moholy-Nagy

Such a judgment of the picture reproduced here would be natural enough if one thought that it was a photograph of two children, but it is not: It is a photograph of an unfamiliar visual experience, in which space contests with pattern for primacy. The effort to resolve the contradictory claims of the picture plane and the illusion of space has been one of the central preoccupations of twentieth-century art. The photographs of Moholy are a fascinating part of that history.

from "Looking at Photographs" by John Szarkowski






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Laszlo Moholy-Nagy / recommended books
Laszlo Moholy-Nagy: The Photograms

This well-illustrated catalogue raisonne is the first to feature all of his known photograms--nearly 450--in chronological order. This exhaustive volume examines the artistic, technical and biographical circumstances under which the works were created, places them in relation to other parts of Moholy-Nagy's practice and analyzes selected pieces at length.


Laszlo Moholy-Nagy

This companion volume to a major exhibition of the work of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy highlights the extraordinary range of his prolific career. Throughout his career Moholy-Nagy produced brilliant works in painting, film, photography, sculpture, set design and typography.



The New Vision: Fundamentals of Bauhaus Design, Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture

One of the most important schools for architecture, design, and art in the 20th century, the Weimar Bauhaus included in its distinguished membership Moholy-Nagy. This book, a valuable introduction to the Bauhaus movement, is generously illustrated with examples of students' experiments and typical contemporary achievements. The text also contains an autobiographical sketch.



Laszlo Moholy-Nagy quotes
  • The enemy of photography is the convention, the fixed rules of "how to do". The salvation of photography comes from the experiment.


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