László Moholy-Nagy (American (born Hungary), Borsod 1895–1946 Chicago, Illinois)
Gelatin silver print
Image: 50.6 x 40.2 cm (19 15/16 x 15 13/16 in. )
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Robert Rosenkranz Gift, 2005
Not on view
László Moholy-Nagy played a key role at the Bauhaus in both Weimar and Dessau from 1923 to 1928, and at the New Bauhaus (later the Institute of Design) in Chicago from 1937 until his death in 1946. Early in his career he was associated with Constructivism in Vienna and the Dada movement in Berlin. His major contribution to avant-garde photography was "the new vision" ("das neue Sehen"), in which he advocated a new approach to the medium, proposing the use of such techniques as the manipulation of light in cameraless photograms; negative prints, sharply angled points of view, and radical cropping in camera images; and the introduction of drawn elements, text, and mass-produced images in photomontages. "Decorating Work, Switzerland," also referred to as "Disembodied House," shows the photographer's allegiance to several Constructivist principles, including a floating, unfixed perspective and its plastic configuration of space, such that a house painter, seen from below, becomes but one design element in a geometric composition. While the image is playful in the mode of Bauhaus student photographers, it poses an interesting question: Would Moholy-Nagy, who adhered to the stripped-down industrial style of the Bauhaus, have taken the photograph a day or two later, when the quaint painted decoration of the windows had been completed?
Inscription: Inscribed in black ink on print verso, BR: "Photo L. Moholy-Nagy // Switzerland 1925"; inscribed in pencil on print verso, C: "Top [arrow pointing to top of print]"
[Helios, Arts Inc., New York]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, August 4, 1977
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," May 25, 1993–July 4, 1993.
Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," August 7, 1993–October 2, 1993.
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," June 19, 1994–September 11, 1994.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Modern Times: Photography Between the Two World Wars," June 9, 1998–October 4, 1998.
Carrousel du Louvre, Paris. "Constructed Views: Photography and Architecture," November 19, 1998–November 23, 1998.
Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Bauhaus 1919-1938," November 8, 2009–January 25, 2010.
Apraxine, Pierre. Photographs from the Collection of the Gilman Paper Company. Reeds Springs, Mo.: White Oak Press, 1985. pl. 170.
Hambourg, Maria Morris, Pierre Apraxine, Malcolm Daniel, Virginia Heckert, and Jeff L. Rosenheim. The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. p. 357, pl. 163.
Bergdoll, Barry, and Leah Dickerman. Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity. New York: Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2009. no. 294.