Achim Borchardt-Hume [Editor]: ALBERS AND MOHOLY-NAGY: FROM THE BAUHAUS TO THE NEW WORLD. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006. First edition. A fine hardcover book in a fine dust jacket: unread. Interior unmarked and very clean.
9.25 x 11 hard cover book with 192 pages and 170 color illustrations and 20 b/w illustrations. Published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name: Tate Modern, London [March 9 - June 4, 2006]. Includes contributions by Hal Foster, Hattula Moholy-Nagy, Terence A. Senter. Nicholas Fox Weber and Michael White.
From the publisher: "This beautifully illustrated book highlights the contrasts and correspondences in the lives and work of two of Modernism’s greatest innovators, Josef Albers (1888–1976) and László Moholy-Nagy (1895–1947). Beginning in the 1930s, Albers and Moholy-Nagy each developed a rigorously abstract language that condensed art to its visual fundamentals: line, color, texture, light, and form. This language experienced a creative explosion during their Bauhaus years, when both artists moved freely between media and disciplines. Essays by leading scholars follow the artists’ separate paths through to their emigration to the United States, where each continued to push tirelessly the conventions of artistic practice --Albers at Black Mountain College in North Carolina and then at Yale University, and Moholy-Nagy in Chicago at the New Bauhaus School and the Institute of Design. As highly influential teachers, Albers and Moholy-Nagy became important catalysts for the transmission of Modernist ideas from Europe to America."
László Moholy-Nagy [Hungarian, 1895 – 1946] was a born teacher, convinced that everyone had talent. In 1923, he joined the staff of the Bauhaus, which had been founded by Walter Gropius at Weimar four years before. Kandinsky, Klee, Feininger and Schlemmer were already teaching there. He was brought in at a time when the school was undergoing a decisive change of policy, shedding its original emphasis on handcraft. The driving force was now "the unity of art and technology.” Moholy-Nagy was entrusted with teaching the preliminary course in principles of form, materials and construction - the basis of the Bauhaus's educational program. He shared teaching duties with the painter Josef Albers, whose career was to develop in parallel with his.
The hyper-energetic Moholy-Nagy also ran the metal workshop at the Bauhaus in Weimar and later in the purpose-designed buildings at Dessau. The metal shop was the most successful of departments at the Bauhaus in fulfilling Gropius's vision of art for mass production, redefining the role of the artist to embrace that of designer as we have now come to understand the term. The workshop experimented with glass and Plexiglas as well as metal in developing the range of lighting that has almost come to define the Bauhaus. The lamps were produced in small production runs, and some were taken up by outside factories. The royalties made a welcome contribution to the school's always precarious finances.
Although always a painter and designer, Moholy-Nagy became a key figure in photography in Germany in the 1920's. In 1928 Moholy-Nagy left the Bauhaus and traveled to Amsterdam and London. His teachings and publications of photographic experimentations were crucial to the international development of the New Vision.
In 1937 former Bauhaus Master László Moholy-Nagy accepted the invitation of a group of Midwest business leaders to set up an Industrial Design school in Chicago. The New Bauhaus opened in the Fall of 1937 financed by the Association of Arts and Industries as a recreation of the Bauhaus curriculum with its workshops and holistic vision in the United States.
Moholy-Nagy drew on several émigrés affiliated with the former Bauhaus to fill the ranks of the faculty, including György Kepes and Marli Ehrman. The school struggled with financial issues and insufficient enrollment and survived only with the aid from grants of the Rockefeller and Carnegie foundations as well as from donations from numerous Chicago businesses. The New Bauhaus was renamed the Institute of Design in 1944 and the school finally merged with the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in 1949.
In Chicago Moholy aimed at liberating the creative potential of his students through disciplined experimentation with materials, techniques, and forms. The focus on natural and human sciences was increased, and photography grew to play a more prominent role at the school in Chicago than it had done in Germany. Training in mechanical techniques was more sophisticated than it had been in Germany. Emerging from the basic course, various workshops were installed, such as "light, photography, film, publicity", "textile, weaving, fashion", "wood, metal, plastics", "color, painting, decorating" and "architecture". The most important achievement at the Chicago Bauhaus was probably in photography, under the guidance of teachers such as György Kepes, Nathan Lerner, Arthur Siegel or Harry Callahan.
Moholy-Nagy served as Director of the New Bauhaus in its various permutations until his death in 1946.
Josef Albers [German, 1888 – 1976] was a German-born American artist and educator whose work formed the basis of some of the most influential and far-reaching art education programs of the twentieth century.
Albers enrolled as a student in the Vorkurs of Johannes Itten at the Weimar Bauhaus in 1920. Although Albers had studied painting, it was as a maker of stained glass that he joined the faculty of the Bauhaus in 1922, approaching his chosen medium as a component of architecture and as a stand-alone art form. Walter Gropius, asked him in 1923 to teach in the preliminary course ‘Werklehre' of the department of design to introduce newcomers to the principles of handicrafts.
In 1925, Albers was promoted to professor, the year the Bauhaus moved to Dessau. At this time, he married Anni Albers (née Fleischmann) who was a student there. His work in Dessau included designing furniture and working with glass. As a younger art teacher, he was teaching at the Bauhaus among artists who included Oskar Schlemmer, Wassily Kandinsky, and Paul Klee. The so-called form master, Klee taught the formal aspects in the glass workshops where Albers was the crafts master; they cooperated for several years.
With the closure of the Bauhaus under Nazi pressure in 1933 the artists dispersed, most leaving the country. Albers emigrated to the United States. The architect Philip Johnson, then a curator at the Museum of Modern Art, arranged for Albers to be offered a job as head of a new art school, Black Mountain College, in North Carolina. In November 1933, he joined the faculty of the college where he was the head of the painting program until 1949.