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Exhibition of Hungarian Bauhaus Artist László Moholy-Nagy a Huge Hit in the United States

By Tom Szigeti // 2017.01.17.

An exhibition of the work of Hungarian photographer and painter László Moholy-Nagy will be travelling to Los Angeles following successfully showings in New York and Chicago.

The exhibition, entitled Moholy-Nagy: Future Present, can be seen at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from February 12th to June 18th of this year. Earlier, the exhibition was shown at the Guggenheim from May to September of 2016, and at the Chicago Institute of Art from October to January.

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László Moholy-Nagy was, in many ways, an artist who defies categorization. A restless innovator, Moholy-Nagy moved fluidly between mediums, and over the course of his life would both create and write about art in ways that continue to influence the art world to this very day.

According to the Art Institute of Chicago,

A pioneer of abstraction for the industrial age, Moholy insisted that art must be developed from the materials of one’s time, in his case recorded sound, photography, film, and synthetic plastics. He demonstrated that in our era of reproducibility works of art gain fresh meaning with a change in size or even reorientation, reverse printing, or a shift in lighting. For Moholy, every citizen could be creative, and every viewer could educate his or her senses by studying effects of light, transparency, and motion in common materials of everyday modern life.

Interestingly, both the Guggenheim and the Art Institute of Chicago have links to the artist himself. Moholy-Nagy’s was heavily collected by museum founder Solomon R. Guggenheim and his advisor, German-born artist Hilla Rebay, and his work would have a prominent place at the Guggenheim’s forerunner, the Museum of Non-Objective Painting. In fact, a memorial exhibition was presented there not long after Moholy-Nagy’s death in 1946.

And in 1937, Moholy-Nagy brought the Bauhaus school to America, founding the New Bauhaus in Chicago, which exists to this day as the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology. In the words of the Art Institute, László Moholy-Nagy “remains the most renowned international modern artist ever to have resided in Chicago.”

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The exhibition includes a contemporary fabrication of the artist’s Room of the Present (Raum der Gegenwart), an “exhibition space conceived of by Moholy-Nagy in 1930, but not realized in his lifetime.” This large work includes design replicas, photo reproductions, and Moholy-Nagy’s Light Prop for an Electric Stage (Lichtrequisit einer elektrischen Bühne, 1930; recreated 2006). According to the Guggenheim,

Room of the Present illustrates Moholy-Nagy’s belief in the power of images and the significance of the various means with which to view and disseminate them—a highly relevant paradigm in today’s constantly shifting and evolving technological world.”

Here is a digital walk-through of Room of the Present:

According to Hungarian news service MTI, Foreign affairs state secretary for cultural and science diplomacy Istvan Ijgyarto said on state media channel M1 that about 100,000 people have seen the exhibition in New York’s Guggenheim Museum, while in Chicago approximately150,000 viewed Moholy-Nagy: Future Present. Mr. Ijgyarto added that these exhibitions have succeeded in drawing the attention of the US public to the diversity of Hungarian art and creativity.

Continuing, Mr. Ijgyarto argued that it was impossible to imagine Hungarian modernism without Moholy-Nagy, whom he called the most original and versatile artist of the 20th century, who, through his artistic skill, made a name for himself in America in his own lifetime as well.

You can view the Art Institute of Chicago’s brief video on the exhibition below:

Via the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and MTI

Images via László Moholy-Nagy and

Videos via the Guggenheim Museum YouTube Channel and the Art Institute of Chicago YouTube Channel