László Moholy-Nagy (American (born Hungary), Borsod 1895–1946 Chicago, Illinois)

Gelatin silver print
23.9 x 17.9 cm (9 7/16 x 7 1/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Description

    Moholy-Nagy played a key role at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau as a painter, graphic artist, teacher, and impassioned advocate of avant-garde photography. He made this image without a camera by placing ordinary objects, including his hand and a paintbrush, on a sheet of photosensitized paper and exposing it to light. While this simple process was practiced by photography's founders in the nineteenth century and was later popularized as a child's amusement, avant-garde artists in the twentieth century revived the photogram technique as a means for exploring the optical and expressive properties of light. With this shadow-image of a hand and paintbrush, Moholy-Nagy ambitiously suggests that photography may incorporate, and even transcend, painting as the most vital medium of artistic expression in the modern age.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Inscribed in ink on print, verso UL: "Moholy-nagy // Kameralose // fotografie (1926)"; inscribed in pencil on print, verso UC: "TOP"; inscribed in pencil on print, verso UC: "2 1/2 [line with arrows to left and right edges] // OVER ALL"; inscribed on circular paper label affixed to print, verso C: "38 3/4"; stamped in ink on print, verso LL [sideways]: "Popular // Photography // 608 S. DEARBORN ST. // CHICAGO"; stamped in ink on print, verso LL [sideways]: "ROTO PAGE 31 [number in pencil]" inscribed in pencil on print, verso LL [sideways]: "E [encircled]", "2A [encircled]"; inscribed in pencil on print, verso UL: "3 [encircled with arrow entering the circle]";

  • Provenance

    William Larson, Philadelphia, by 1975; [Robert Miller Gallery, New York]; John C. Waddell, New York (April 13, 1984)

  • See also