Moholy-Nagy, László

Moholy-Nagy, László

(lä`slō mô`hôlē-nŏ`dyə), 1895–1946, Hungarian painter, designer, and experimental photographer. He turned to art after studying law. While living in Berlin he was one of the founders of constructivismconstructivism,
Russian art movement founded c.1913 by Vladimir Tatlin, related to the movement known as suprematism. After 1916 the brothers Naum Gabo and Antoine Pevsner gave new impetus to Tatlin's art of purely abstract (although politically intended) constructions.
..... Click the link for more information.
, experimenting with photograms and translucent materials. As a professor in the newly opened BauhausBauhaus
, artists' collective and school of art and architecture in Germany (1919–33). The Bauhaus revolutionized art training by combining the teaching of classic arts with the study of crafts.
..... Click the link for more information.
 from 1923 to 1928, Moholy-Nagy was coeditor with Walter Gropius of the school's regular publications. While there he experimented with a form of kinetic artkinetic art,
term referring to sculptured works that include motion as a significant dimension. The form was pioneered by Marcel Duchamp, Naum Gabo, and Alexander Calder. Kinetic art is either nonmechanical, e.g., Calder's mobiles, or mechanical, e.g.
..... Click the link for more information.
, which he called "light space modulators," a stunning array of motor-driven shapes that he illuminated to produce elaborate shadows on the nearby walls. He worked in Berlin until 1934 as a typographer and designer of stage sets. In 1937 he directed the Bauhaus School of Design in Chicago until it failed (1938). Thereafter he opened the Chicago Institute of Design, which he headed until his death. His greatest contribution to modern art lay in his teaching, which deeply influenced American commercial and industrial design. He was the author of The New Vision (tr. 1928) and Vision in Motion (1947).


See study by S. Moholy-Nagy, his wife (1950); R. Heyne and F. M. Neusüss, ed., Moholy-Nagy: The Photograms (2010); Moholy: An Education of the Senses (museum catalog, 2010).

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.

Moholy-Nagy, László

(1895–1946) painter, photographer, sculptor, teacher; born in Bacsbarsod, Hungary. He started painting in Europe (1917), and beginning in 1923, he taught at the Bauhaus School, Germany. Among other projects, he produced abstract photograms, and mobile sculptures, such as Light-Space Requisite (1922–30). He emigrated to America, and from 1937 until his death, was the director of the Bauhaus School of Design in Chicago (later called the Chicago Institute of Design) (1939). The author of Vision in Motion (1947), he influenced many commercial and design artists.