László Moholy-Nagy

László Moholy-Nagy
Laszlo Moholy-Nagy - photography from NARA - 281845.jpg
Declaration of Intention for US citizenship (1938)
László Weisz

(1895-07-20)July 20, 1895
Bácsborsód, Hungary
DiedNovember 24, 1946(1946-11-24) (aged 51)
Chicago, Illinois, US
American (1946)
Known forPainting, photography, sculpture, film
Notable work
Light Prop for an Electric Stage (1928-1930, also called Light-Space Modulator posthumously)

László Moholy-Nagy (/; Hungarian: [ˈlaːsloː ˈmohojnɒɟ];[2] born László Weisz; July 20, 1895 – November 24, 1946) was a Hungarian painter and photographer as well as a professor in the Bauhaus school. He was highly influenced by constructivism and a strong advocate of the integration of technology and industry into the arts. A New York Times article called him "relentlessly experimental" because of his pioneering work in painting, drawing, photography, collage, sculpture, film, theater, and writing.[1]

He also worked collaboratively with other artists, including his first wife Lucia Moholy, Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, and Herbert Bayer.[3][4] His largest accomplishment may be the School of Design in Chicago, which survives today as part of the Illinois Institute of Technology, which art historian Elizabeth Siegel called “his overarching work of art”.[3] He also wrote books and articles advocating a utopian type of high modernism.[3]

Early life and education (1895–1922)

Moholy-Nagy was born László Weisz in Bácsborsód (Hungary), to a Jewish family.[5] His mother's second cousin was the conductor Sir Georg Solti.[3] László was the middle child of three surviving sons, but the family was soon abandoned by the Jewish father, Lipót Weisz.[4]

The remainder of the family took protection and support from the maternal uncle, Gusztáv Nagy.[4] The uncle was a lawyer, and sponsored the education of László and his younger brother, Ákos.[4] In turn, László took the Magyar surname of his mentor.[4] Later, he added “Moholy” to his surname, after the name of the town of Mohol (now part of Serbia) where he spent part of his boyhood in the family home nearby.[citation needed]

László attended a gymnasium school in the city of Szeged, which was the second-largest city in the country.[4] Initially he wanted to become a writer or poet,[3] and in 1911 some of his poems were published in local daily newspapers.[6][4] Starting in 1913, he studied law at the University of Budapest.[6]

In 1915 during World War I, he enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian army as an artillery officer.[6] In service, he also made crayon sketches, watercolors, and writings to document his wartime experiences.[6] He was injured on the Russian Front in 1917, and convalesced in Budapest.[6] While on leave and during convalescence, Moholy-Nagy became involved first with the journal Jelenkor (“The Present Age”), edited by Hevesy, and then with the “Activist” circle around Lajos Kassák’s journal Ma (“Today”).[citation needed]

After his discharge from the military in October 1918, he abandoned his law studies[6] and attended the private art school of the Hungarian Fauve artist Róbert Berény. In 1918, he formally converted to the Hungarian Reformed Church; his godfather was his Roman Catholic university friend, the art critic Iván Hevesy.[citation needed] He was a supporter of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, declared early in 1919, though he assumed no official role in it.[citation needed]

After the defeat of the Communist regime in August, he withdrew to Szeged. An exhibition of his work was held there, before he left for Vienna around November 1919.[7][8]

Moholy-Nagy moved to Berlin early in 1920, where he met photographer and writer Lucia Schulz; they married the next year.[6]

In 1922, at an exhibition of his work for Der Sturm, he met Walter Gropius.[6] That summer, he vacationed on the Rhone with Lucia, who introduced him to making photograms on light-sensitized paper.[6] He also began sketching ideas for what would become his most well-known sculpture, the Light-Space Modulator.[6]

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