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The Art Story Homepage Artists László Moholy-Nagy
László Moholy-Nagy Photo

László Moholy-Nagy

Hungarian-American Designer, Filmmaker, Painter, Photographer, Sculptor, and Theoretician

Movements and Styles: Bauhaus, Modern Photography, Straight Photography, Kinetic Art, Op Art

Born: July 20, 1895 - Borsod, Austria-Hungary

Died: November 24, 1946 - Chicago, Illinois

László Moholy-Nagy Timeline

"The enemy of photography is the convention, the fixed rules of 'how to do'. The salvation of photography comes from the experiment."

László Moholy-Nagy Signature

Summary of László Moholy-Nagy

László Moholy-Nagy is arguably one of the greatest influences on post-war art education in the United States. A modernist and a restless experimentalist from the outset, the Hungarian-born artist was shaped by Dadaism, Suprematism, Constructivism, and debates about photography. When Walter Gropius invited him to teach at the Bauhaus, in Dessau, Germany, he took over the school's crucial preliminary course, and gave it a more practical, experimental, and technological bent. He later delved into various fields, from commercial design to theater set design, and also made films and worked as a magazine art director. But his greatest legacy was the version of Bauhaus teaching he brought to the United States, where he established the highly influential Institute of Design in Chicago.

Key Ideas

Moholy-Nagy believed that humanity could only defeat the fracturing experience of modernity - only feel whole again - if it harnessed the potential of new technologies. Artists should transform into designers, and through specialization and experimentation find the means to answer humanity's needs.
His interest in photography encouraged his belief that artists' understanding of vision had to specialize and modernize. Artists used to be dependent on the tools of perspective drawing, but with the advent of the camera they had to learn to see again. They had to renounce the classical training of previous centuries, which encouraged them to think about the history of art and to reproduce old formulas and experiment with vision, thus stretching human capacity to new tasks.
Moholy-Nagy's interest in qualities of space, time, and light endured throughout his career and transcended the very different media he employed. Whether he was painting or creating "photograms" (photographs made without the use of a camera or negative) or crafting sculptures made of transparent Plexiglass, he was ultimately interested in studying how all these basic elements interact.
László Moholy-Nagy Photo

László Moholy-Nagy was born in a small farming town in southern Hungary. His father abandoned the family when he was young, and his mother took László and his brothers to live with their grandmother. "I lived my childhood years in a terrible great quietness," he later wrote. Along with his mother and brothers, he left for Budapest in 1913 to study law, but his studies were interrupted when he enlisted into the Austro-Hungarian Army as an artillery officer in 1915. He experienced the horror of war on the Russian and Italian fronts, which remained with him for the rest of his life. During this time as a soldier as he sketched field life, his fellow officers, and the civilians he encountered, he discovered a passion for drawing.

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
László Moholy-Nagy
Interactive chart with László Moholy-Nagy's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
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Show influences

Artists

Kurt SchwittersKurt Schwitters
El LissitzkyEl Lissitzky
Kazimir MalevichKazimir Malevich
Piet MondrianPiet Mondrian

Personal Contacts

Lajos KassakLajos Kassak
Paul ScheerbartPaul Scheerbart
Walter GropiusWalter Gropius
Herbert ReadHerbert Read

Movements

CubismCubism
ConstructivismConstructivism
SuprematismSuprematism
DadaDada
Influences on Artist
Influences on Artist
László Moholy-Nagy
László Moholy-Nagy
Years Worked: 1917 - 1946
Influenced by Artist
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Robert BrownjohnRobert Brownjohn
Marianne BrandtMarianne Brandt
Charles EamesCharles Eames
Herbert BayerHerbert Bayer
Gyorgy KepesGyorgy Kepes

Personal Contacts

Walter GropiusWalter Gropius
Alfred H. Barr, Jr.Alfred H. Barr, Jr.

Movements

Geometric AbstractionGeometric Abstraction

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Rebecca Seiferle

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Greg Thomas

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Rebecca Seiferle
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Greg Thomas
Available from:
First published on 01 Aug 2012. Updated and modified regularly. Information
[Accessed ]