When I was reading through the text and Laszlos name popped up, I couldn’t help to wonder about him. I had never heard his name and wanted to learn more on him. We know from the reading that Laszlo replaced Johannes Itten as instructor of the foundation course at the Bauhaus. Laszlo’s induction as a professor marked the end of the schools expressionistic leaning and moved closer towards its original aims as a school of design and industrial integration. The Bauhaus was known for it ‘jack of all trades’ artists, laszlo being among them, being innovative in the fields ranging from photography to typography. Being a man of many skill sets was a huge influence on many of his students and colleagues alike while teaching at the Bauhaus.
Laszlo was born July 20, 1895. He was born to a Jewish-Hungarian family. He attended Gymnasium, a high school in the city of Szeged. In 1914 he was sent into the Austo-Hungarian army. He experienced the horror of war on the Russian and Italian fronts, which remained with him for the rest of his life. He drew daily during this time as a soldier, sketching field life, his fellow officers, and the civilians he encountered. This was in a way his beginning as an artist, as when the war ended, he graduated with a law degree, but his heart lay with a brush, and later a camera.
Moholy-Nagy was attracted to the art by Malevich and Lissitsky. He also studied the works of Rodchenko, Tatlin and Kandinsky in great detail and learned about the cultural aspects of the Russian Revolution. These men would influence his future work, and his own style would be influenced by Suprematism, Russian Constuctivism and Dada. Laszlo celebrated the countless resources of form and movement, the possibilities of where technology, as well as art were going.
Perhaps his most crowning achievement was his construction of the Light Prop for an Electric Stage, a device with moving parts meant to have light projected through it in order to create mobile light reflections and shadows on nearby surfaces. This installation embodies the artists aim to introduce kinetic elements into a work of art. It is a greaty sum up for Moholy-Nagys interest in the unity of art and technology.
The Light Space Modulator, 1929-1930
After his work at the Bauhaus, which ended in 1928, he worked freelance and down the line a bit he was invited by Walter Paepcke, Chairman of the Container Corporation of America, he would move Chicago to become director of the New Bauhaus. This fell through a year later because of poor funding. Throught support from Paepcke, Laszlo opened the School of Design in 1939, later the Institute of Design in 1944. Moholy-Nagy died of leukemia in Chicago in November 1946. At the time of his death he was President of the Institute of Design, now having 680 students, a director of the American Designers Institute, of the CIAM (Congress Internationale Architecture). Many of his works are displayed in many locations, like the MOMA. Laszlo leaves his mark on art, and even technology, as he was one of the leading members to unify the two to create works that paved a path for many fields that he was involved in.
Passuth, Krisztina. Moholy-Nagy. Trans. London: Thames and Hudson, 1985.