Moholy-Nagy, László. Siegfried Giedion [essay]: L. MOHOLY-NAGY. London Gallery, Ltd. 1936.

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Siegfried Giedion [essay]

[László Moholy-Nagy] Siegfried Giedion [essay]: L. MOHOLY-NAGY. London: London Gallery, Ltd. 1936. Original edition. Slim 12mo. Perfect bound and stitched printed wrappers. 37 pp. 11 black and white plates. Catalog of 43 items. Siegfried Giedion’s Telehor essay. Wrappers soiled with spine wear and etching to rear panel. A very good copy.

5.5 x 8.25 exhibition catalog with 37 pages, 11 black and white plates, and a list of the 43 items included in the “First Exhibition in England of L. Moholy-Nagy, Dec. 31st – Jan. 27th, 1937.” Siegfried Giedion’s essay from Telehor reprinted as introductory essay.

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.