László Moholy-Nagy (American (born Hungary), Borsod 1895–1946 Chicago, Illinois)
Gelatin silver print
23.5 x 17.5 cm (9 1/4 x 6 7/8 in.)
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Denise and Andrew Saul Gift, 2005
Not on view
Moholy-Nagy took this photograph in 1926 while on holiday in Ascona, Switzerland, with Oscar Schlemmer, a fellow instructor at the Bauhaus, and the Schlemmer family. It was published in 1927 in the second revised and English editions of Moholy's "Painting, Photography, and Film" with the caption, "The organisation of the light and shade, the criss-crossing of the shadows removes the toy into the realm of the fantastic." The image projects a Constructivist organization of space in the way vertical and horizontal surfaces are unified in a single plane by an overall pattern of light and shade. The insistent presence of the grid conveys a deeply ominous feeling, the disjunction between its shadows and the vulnerable bodies of the two caged dolls creating a sense of foreboding violence more typical of Surrealism than of the mechanized utopias of Constructivist art.
Inscription: Signed and inscribed in ink on print, verso BR: "Foto Moholy = Nagy", B: "[illegible inscription in German]
(sold, Sotheby's Belgravia, London, Lot 236, June 30, 1978); Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York
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.
Taken in Ascona in 1926 when Moholy and his wife spent a holiday there with the family of Oskar Schlemmer (Haus, Moholy-Nagy Photographs and Photograms, p. 61).