László Moholy-Nagy (American (born Hungary), Borsod 1895–1946 Chicago, Illinois)
Gelatin silver print
Image: 35.4 x 28 cm (13 15/16 x 11 in.)
Purchase, several members of The Chairman's Council Gifts, 2004
Not on view
This exciting and unexpected view up the rigging of a sailboat, made on the Spree River near Berlin, is a prime example of Moholy's "new vision." Armed with a small hand-held camera and a free-wheeling spirit, Moholy made "bird's-eye" and "worm's-eye" views that transformed the pictorial conventions of perspective and posited a new way of experiencing and representing the world. His disorienting, topsy-turvy viewpoints viscerally communicated the dynamism of the modern world and paralleled the social revolutions of the Weimar Republic.
Moholy joined the faculty of the Bauhaus in 1923 as the director of the metal workshop and created the school's "preliminary course," in which he introduced photographic materials and techniques into the curriculum; a formal photography course was established in 1928. Perhaps because Moholy had credentials as an avant-garde painter, sculptor, and graphic designer but not as a professional photographer, he was unburdened by tradition as he set out to reshape the medium. His innovations included abstract cameraless "photograms," photomontages, negative prints, and a highly unconventional use of the camera.
Inscription: Signed on the verso in red pencil, partially erased: "L. Moholy-Nagy"; inscribed on the verso in pencil: "full page"; "34" [encircled]; "Photo"; "Hilde"
Possibly Sybil Moholy-Nagy (widow of the artist); Bill Rauhauser, (photographer and photo-historian), Detroit, by 1973; [Houk Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan, late 1977]; Private Collection; [Charles Isaacs Photographs, Malvern, PA]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 39," December 23, 2004–April 17, 2005.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 57," August 22, 2011–January 9, 2012.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. "Moholy-Nagy: Future Present," May 27, 2016–September 7, 2016.
Art Institute of Chicago. "Moholy-Nagy: Future Present," October 2, 2016–January 3, 2017.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Moholy-Nagy: Future Present," February 12, 2017–June 18, 2017.
Witkovsky, Matthew, Carol S. Eliel, and Karole P. B. Vail, ed. Moholy–Nagy: Future Present. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 2016. no. 152, pp. 122, 138.