The world was his plaything. Whether camera or canvas, whatever media he used, László Moholy-Nagy was able to bend the world at will, to make it fit his strong sense of composition. Circles, lines and order.
László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946), was a proto-conceptualist, a restless and prolific innovator, artist, educator and writer, who is now considered one of the most influential figures of the avant-garde. He was a diverse category defying artist who managed to shape-shift fluidly between disciplines; photography, painting, sculpture, film and design.
He was also a very early advocate for and proponent of experimental photography. His approach anticipated questions posed by subsequent generations of artists.
Born in Hungary in 1895, Moholy-Nagy initially studied law before serving in the army during World War I. He was discharged in 1918 after being wounded and by 1920 had settled in Berlin, gaining a reputation as an innovative artist and a perceptive and progressive art theorist.
His multi-discipline mojo gained him an invitation from Walter Gropius to teach at the Bauhaus School of Art and Design in Weimar and Dessau which he did from 1923 to 1928. His approach, which took in new technologies and modern materials – alongside his utopian optimism for the future of design and society – played a huge part in defining the Bauhaus ethos. The rise of Nazism forced Moholy-Nagy to leave Germany, first for Amsterdam and then to London where his family joined him. In 1937 he moved to America, founding The School of Design in Chicago in 1939 in the Bauhaus model.