MOHOLY-NAGY Ladislaus
( 1895-1946). Born at Bacsbarsod in Hungary; died in Chicago. Inducted into the Austro-Hungarian army in 1914, he was severely wounded on the Russian front in 1917. During his convalescence at Odessa, then at Szeged, he began drawing portraits and landscapes in a very personal, undulating style that he did not resume later. Upon his discharge from the army, he returned to Budapest, where he obtained the degree of Doctor of Law ( 1918). He met Lissitzky in Düsseldorf in 1921 and produced his first abstract paintings, which were exhibited in Der Sturm Gallery in Berlin. In Vienna in 1922, in collaboration with the Hungarian poet Lajos Kassak, he published a kind of anthology of the new art: Bush Neuer Künstler. In 1923 he met Walter Gropius, who, impressed by his personality and enthusiasm, appointed him a proessor at the Bauhaus. His activity in this famous school of fine and applied arts was very important from 1923 to 1928. In particular, he edited the collection of Bauhausbücher there, publishing several of his own works, which show the novelty of his ideas and experiments with materials and various techniques. While continuing to paint, he was chiefly known at the time for his photograms and photomontages. Under the pressure of political developments in Germany, he left the Bauhaus and travelled throughout Europe ( Hungary, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, France, Greece, Italy). He was in Amsterdam in 1934, in London in 1935. It is there that he published several volumes of documentary photographs and began the series of his painting-sculptures or painting-objects which he called 'space modulators'. In 1937 he went to the United States, where he founded an autonomous school, the School of Design, which met with great success. At the same time he developed his experiments with space (sculptures in plexiglass in combination with other materials) but also continued to paint. In 1946 he published The New Vision in New York. He died of leukemia the same year. In 1947 a posthumous work called Vision in Motion was published in Chicago, condensing in non-technical form the sum of his experiences and concepts of art. Moholy-Nagy is the most authentic type of the experimental artist.
His works must be considered as pure experimentation; otherwise one could easily be indifferent to his plexiglass sculptures or studies of transparency of colours. In transferring his investigations to new spheres, Moholy did not always avoid dispersion, but he feared nothing more than petrification in a closed theory. His plastic works seldom achieve greatness, but his didactic works contain an inexhaustible wealth of ideas, documents, examples and original propositions of interest to all students of modern art and everyone engaged in independent research.
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