Moholy-Nagy, László: VISION IN MOTION. Chicago: Theobald 1969 [1947].

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László Moholy-Nagy

László Moholy-Nagy: VISION IN MOTION. Chicago: Theobald 1947. Eighth printing from 1969. Quarto. Oatmeal cloth embossed and stamped in brown. Photo illustrated dust jacket. 376 pp. 440 illustrations, 11 in color. Book design and typography by the author. The heavy red ink coverage on the dust jacket showes a trace of offsetting and a couple of dark small spots to front panel. Out-of-print. An uncirculated copy from Publisher’s stock. A fine hardcover book in a nearly fine dust jacket. Rare thus.

9 x11 hardcover book with 376 pages and 440 illustrations (11 in color). An exhaustive visual compendium of the modern movement, circa 1947. Includes many examples of Bauhaus and the New Bauhaus (Institute of Design) work (Marcel Breuer, Walter Gropius, Oskar Schlemmer, Herbert Bayer, etc.) "A seminal work…still of great value" (Karpel E986). Also Freitag 6628. Sharp p.90.

From the Book: "Of all the artists who have received world-wide recognition none is more versatile than Moholy-Nagy; and none is better qualified to write this blue-print of education through art. Pioneer participant in the great artistic and intellectual movements in Europe, Moholy-Nagy reveals here his rich experience as an educator and gives a summation of his philosophy upon which the educational program of the Institute of Design, Chicago, is founded. He clarifies the relationship of modern design, painting, literature, architecture, the cinema, science and industry. He makes the most thorough inquiry thus far attempted into the space-time reality of modern man and his emotional existence. A strong advocate of the interrelatedness of all human activities, Moholy-Nagy makes a passionate plea for the integration of art, technology and science. In the belief that the most forceful statements are provided by illustrations, the author amplifies his ideas lavishly with pictorial material. There is a large variety of media and subject matter such as industrial design and advertising art, contempora ry painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, photomontage, as well as collages, and motion pictures. The book provides the reader with a contemporary attitude toward life and a new insight into modern art. It is recommended for the layman and the connoisseur alike."

One of Chicago's great cultural achievements, the Institute of Design was among the most important schools of photography in twentieth-century America. It began as an outpost of experimental Bauhaus education and was home to an astonishing group of influential teachers and students, including Lázló Moholy-Nagy, Harry Callahan, and Aaron Siskind.

This is a Bible of Modernism from one of the Bauhaus masters who relocated to Chicago before World War II and continued to teach his avant-garde theories of art and design.  Walter Gropius: "I think this will be the leading book in art education." What more can I add?

  • Foreward
  • Acknowledgement
  • Introduction
  • Analyzing the Situation/Vision in Motion
  • New Method of Approach - Design for Life
  • New Education - Organic Approach
  • Integration - the Arts: Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Space-Time problems, Motion Pictures, Literature, Group Poetry
  • A Proposal
  • Index

The list of designers, photographers, architects and artists represented in this volume is a veritable rosetta stone of the 20th-century modern movement: Alvar Aalto, Berenice Abbot, Jean Arp, Willie Baumeister, Herbert Bayer, Max Bill, Marcel Breuer, Robert Brownjohn, Le Corbusier, Theo van Doesburg, Henry Dreyfuss, Naum Gabo, Morton Goldsholl, Juan Gris, Walter Gropius, Raoul Hausmann, Kasimir Malevich, Herbert Matter, Mies van der Rohe, Piet Mondrian, Richard Neutra, ben Nicholson, Paul Rand, Bernard Rodofsky, Ladislav Sutnar, Angelo Testa, James Prestini, Frank Lloyd Wright and many others.

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.