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The Schirn Presents A Major Retrospective of The Hungarian Artist Moholy-Nagy
László Moholy-Nagy, Composition A 19, 1927, Oil on canvas, 80 x 96 cm, Private Collection, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009.
FRANKFURT.- The Hungarian artist László Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946) became known in Germany through his formative work as a teacher at the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau from 1923 to 1928. His pioneering theories on art as a testing ground for new forms of expression and their application to all areas of modern life are still influential today. Comprising roughly 170 works – paintings, photographs and photograms, sculptures and films, as well as stage set designs and typographical projects - the retrospective encompasses all phases of his oeuvre. On the occasion of the ninetieth anniversary of the foundation of the Bauhaus, it will thus offer a survey of the wide range of Moholy-Nagy's creative output to the public for the first time since the last major exhibition of his work in Kassel in 1991. One highlight of the exhibition will be the realization of his hitherto unexecuted design The Room of Our Time, which brings together all of the artist's theories.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Hessische Kulturstiftung. Additional support has been granted by the Fazit Stiftung.

No other teacher at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau, nor nearly any other artist of the 1920s in Germany, an epoch so rich in utopian designs, developed such a wide range of ideas and activities as Moholy-Nagy. His work bears evidence to the fact that he considered painting and film, photography and sculpture, stage set design, drawing, and the photogram to be of equal importance. Whether in his early work at the Bauhaus or in his late work in the USA, he continually fell back upon these means of expression. Using them alternately, he varied them and took them up again as parts of a universal concept whose pivot is to be seen in the alert, curious, and unrestrained experimental mind of the "multimedia" artist himself. Long before the word "media designer" was invented and people began to talk about professional "marketing," Moholy-Nagy worked in these fields, too – as a guiding intellectual force concerned with new technical facilities, design and educational instruments. "All design areas of life are closely interlinked," he wrote about 1925. Despite his motto expressing "the unity of art and technology," Moholy-Nagy was no uncritical admirer of the machine age, but rather a humanist who was open-minded about technology. His fundamental attitude as an artist may be summed up as aimed at improving the quality of life, avoiding specialization, and employing science and technology for the enrichment and heightening of human experience.

Moholy-Nagy's aesthetically and conceptually radical approach already becomes apparent in the classical arts, in painting and sculpture. His so-called Telephone Pictures, which he dictated to somebody by telephone, exemplify this dimension: using a special graph paper and a color chart, he worked out the composition and colors of the pictures and had them executed according to his telephonic instructions by the employees of a sign factory. He also pursued new paths with his famous Light-Space Modulator of 1930, describing his gesamtkunstwerk composed of color, light, and movement as an "apparatus for the demonstration of the effects of light and movement." It was equally new territory he conquered in the fields of photography and film: with his cameraless photography, his photograms, and his abstract films such as Light Play Black, White, Gray from 1930, Moholy-Nagy is still regarded as one of the most important twentieth-century photographers. Presenting his The Room of Our Time, the Schirn offers a concise abstract of the artist's work. The sketches for this environment, which assembles all his theories, date back as far as 1930 and will be realized in the Schirn on the occasion of the Bauhaus anniversary in 2009 for the first time. This theory and presentation space will confront the visitor with Moholy-Nagy's innovations in the new media, in exhibition design, and in light projection in a condensed form.

László Moholy-Nagy |


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