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At The Art Institute | A Glimpse Of Moholy, The Most Versatile Artist Of The 20th Century

The first retrospective of his work in the United States in nearly 50 years, Moholy-Nagy: Future Present traces the career of a multimedia artist who was always ahead of his time.


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"László Moholy-Nagy (b. 1895, Borsód, Austria-Hungary; d. 1946, Chicago) believed in the potential of art as a vehicle for social transformation, working hand in hand with technology for the betterment of humanity," the Guggenheim says.

"A restless innovator, Moholy-Nagy experimented with a wide variety of mediums, moving fluidly between the fine and applied arts in pursuit of his quest to illuminate the interrelatedness of life, art, and technology.

"An artist, educator, and writer who defied categorization, he expressed his theories in numerous influential writings that continue to inspire artists and designers today.

"Walter Gropius invited him to join the faculty at the Bauhaus school of art and design, where Moholy-Nagy taught in Weimar and Dessau in the 1920s.

"In 1937, he was appointed to head the New Bauhaus in Chicago; he later opened his own School of Design there (subsequently renamed the Institute of Design), which today is part of the Illinois Institute of Technology."

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"European modernism still has some great artists whose achievements are a bit fuzzy in the public mind, and one of them is Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. His name is barely known beyond the field of 20th-century art, where it is associated mostly with experimental photography and sometimes thought to be Russian," Roberta Smith writes for the New York Times.

"Part of the fuzziness reflects the fact that this Hungarian visionary of multiple mediums - the first thoroughly interdisciplinary artist - was exceedingly prolific. Photographs of him show a man with wire-rim glasses and slicked-back hair whose face seems to jut into the future. His extraordinary foresight is confirmed by Moholy-Nagy: Future Present."

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The Guggenheim's trailer:

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"Chicago Bauhaus and Beyond, also know as CBB, derives its name from the New Bauhaus School of Design, located in Chicago, descendent of the influential German Bauhaus design school and precursor of the Illinois Institute of Technology's Institute of Design. The New Bauhaus, and later IIT, played crucial roles in developing and promoting modern design.

"The New Bauhaus, founded in 1937 in Chicago, was the immediate successor to the German Bauhaus dissolved in 1933 under National Socialist pressure. Bauhaus ideology had a strong impact throughout America, but it was only at the New Bauhaus that the complete curriculum as developed under Walter Gropius in Weimar and Dessau was adopted and further developed.

"The former Bauhaus master László Moholy-Nagy was founding director of the New Bauhaus. He then headed the consecutive School of Design from 1938 until his death in 1946 (entitled Institute of Design from 1944 onwards) aiming at liberating the creative potential of his students through disciplined experimentation with materials, techniques, and forms.

"The focus on natural and human sciences was increased, and photography grew to play a more prominent role at the school in Chicago than it had done in Germany. Training in mechanical techniques was more sophisticated than it had been in Germany."

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On Moholy-Nagy and the New Bauhaus in Chicago.

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Chicago Tribune, August 1, 1943: Moholy-Nagy Brings Life Of Future Today: Designer's School Uses Odd Mediums.

Chicago Tribune, November 25, 1946: L. Moholy-Nagy, Noted Modern Designer, Dies.

Chicago Tribune, June 1, 1969: The Moholy-Nagy Show - A Bauhaus Alumnus Returns.

Chicago Tribune, January, 18, 1991: Exploring The Many Worlds Of Moholy-Nagy's Chicago.

Chicago Tribune, May 28, 1995: Moholy-Nagy In A New Light

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on October 4, 2016


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