Profiles in Black & White: László Moholy-Nagy

In Article, Black and White Photography on November 7, 2013 at 10:59 am

“The reality of our century is technology: the invention, construction and maintenance of machines. To be a user of machines is to be of the spirit of this century. Machines have replaced the transcendental spiritualism of past eras.”

-László Moholy-Nagy

Moholy-Nagy, by Lucia Moholy

Moholy-Nagy, by Lucia Moholy

In all likelihood, László Moholy-Nagy was probably born about fifty years too early. Few contemporaries showed as much desire to innovate and explore what art had to offer and he would have surely loved to see what new technology could enable. He also may have been on Earth for longer than his 51 years with access to modern medicine.

The Hungarian’s greatest influence was from the Constructivism movement, a philosophy that rejected autonomous art, favored the inclusion of social purposes and often used geometric abstractions (often mechanical) and acute spatial structure. The movement was prevalent in Communist activism during the 1920s-onward and also influenced many modern designers, including Bauhaus school, where Moholy-Nagy was a professor at both in Berlin and at the New Bauhaus in Chicago.

The Boardwalk (Before 1931)

The Boardwalk (Before 1931)

A versatile artist, Moholy-Nagy explored teaching (perhaps Bauhaus’s most effective theoretician in art education), writing, designing and his first love, painting. This inquisitiveness was particularly fruitful for photography, where his interest in photograms and photomontage was benefited from his other skills. As a straight photographer, his eclecticism was also effectively distinct, as many of the photos displayed ambiguity, contrarian notes and an acute wit. Ironically, many academics found these photos to be of poor quality due to unconventional perspectives and lack of focus on the subject.

Unfortunately Moholy-Nagy’s time was cut short, dying of leukemia in 1946.

László Moholy-Nagy: photographs.

  1. […] Profiles in Black & White: László Moholy-Nagy ( […]

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