László Moholy-Nagy

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Moholy-Nagy, László


Born July 20, 1895, in Bacsbarsod, Borsód; died Nov. 24, 1946, in Chicago. Hungarian sculptor, designer, and photographer.

Having emigrated from Hungary after the suppression of the Soviet government, Moholy-Nagy worked primarily in Germany (1920–33) and the USA (from 1937). He was influenced by K. S. Malevich, L. M. Lisitskii, and N. Gabo. Between 1915 and 1925, Moholy-Nagy produced graphic sheets in the spirit of suprematism (On a White Background, 1923, Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne) and abstract spatial compositions (Plastic Forms in Nickel, 1922). From 1923 to 1928 he was a professor at the Bauhaus, where he taught a preparatory course on the general principles of creating plastic forms.

Moholy-Nagy’s work in photographic theory and as a photographer greatly influenced the further development of photographic art. In the 1920’s he made several politically incisive photomontages (for example, Militarism). His photographic works included a number of expressive and penetrating portraits (for example, a portrait of V. V. Mayakovsky).

In the late 1920’s, Moholy-Nagy became interested in what would become the main theme of his subsequent work—the investigation of the expressive possibilities of light in transparent and translucent spatial constructions. He placed such constructions in a box having programmed changes in illumination. Moholy-Nagy’s works of this period found practical application in several fields of design and in the production of illuminated signs. In 1928 the artist left the Bauhaus together with W. Gropius. After the Nazis came to power, Moholy-Nagy left Germany. In 1937 he founded the New Bauhaus in Chicago.


Zhivopis’ ili fotografiia. Moscow, 1929. (Translated from German.)
Malerei, Photographie, Film. Munich, 1925. (Bauhausbücher, vol. 8).
Von Material zur Architektur. Munich, 1929 (Bauhausbücher, vol. 14).
Vision in Motion. Chicago, 1956.


Moholy-Nagy, S. László Moholy-Nagy. New York, 1950.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.