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László Moholy-Nagy

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László Moholy-Nagy
Modern (19th century-1945) Photography
(Bácsborsod, Hungary, July 21, 1895 - November 24, 1946, Chicago, IL)

László Moholy-Nagy was born in Bácsborsod, Mohol Puszta, Hungary on July 21, 1895, but later took American citizenship. He studied literature at Budapest University for a year, then joined the army during World War I. Praise of his war sketches inspired him to refocus his talents on art. He worked primarily with Constructivism and Dadaism, and was also influenced by other movements such as Cubism, Futurism, and Dutch De Stijl. Moholy-Nagy moved to Berlin in 1919. By 1922 he had co-published a book, was working for a journal, and had just been appointed faculty at the prestigious Bauhaus school of design. Before leaving the Bauhaus in 1928, Moholy-Nagy helped reshape the educational style there, turning the emphasis from Expressionism to practical household designs that would improve the quality of life. Between 1925-30, he co-edited fourteen Bauhaus books and wrote two of his own: "Malerei, Photographie, Film" and "Material zu Architektur." Moholy-Nagy was fascinated by the interrelation of light, space, and time; he saw light as the embodiment of physical energy in space. His experimentation resulted in photograms, which he and his wife Lucia described in their July 1922 article "Produktion-Reproduktion." Moholy-Nagy also created photomontage by adding his own drawing around a developed picture and then rephotographing it to produce remarkable textures, transparencies, and interplay of light. In 1929, Moholy-Nagy opened a freelance design office in Berlin, securing commissions for exhibition and stage designs and magazine layouts. That year he also produced an invention, his Light Prop, which was displayed in Paris for the Deutscher Werkbund exhibition. In 1930, Moholy-Nagy made his first film, "Light Play: Black and White and Grey." During the 1930s he made more commercial films, a documentary, and three photographic series. He also continued inventing; his best known commercial product was the Parker 51 fountain pen. The New Bauhaus opened in Chicago in 1937, and Moholy-Nagy was appointed as its director. He died of leukemia in Chicago on November 24, 1946. In trying to encompass the incredible breadth of Moholy-Nagy's career, some have called him a "humanist artist-engineer".


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