László Moholy-Nagy’s preliminary course

1923–1928

Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017
Study in Balance, from László Moholy-Nagy's Preliminary Course, author: Marianne Brandt / photo: Lucia Moholy, 1923.

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In 1923, the Hungarian Constructivist László Moholy-Nagy joined the Bauhaus Weimar as the youngest master of form, supporting Walter Gropius in his orientation towards the new unity of art and technology. Moholy-Nagy, whose reputation was established by an exhibition at the gallery "Der Sturm" in Berlin, advocated the idea of the artist-engineer. He was suspicious of anything esoteric or romantic.

As the head of the metal workshop, he promoted modern lighting design and the development of prototypes and therefore the transition from manual craftsmanship to industrial technologies. As the co-organiser and graphic designer of the Bauhaus books from 1924 and the Bauhaus magazine from 1926, Moholy-Nagy had a decisive influence on the international network and image of the Bauhaus.

Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
Photograph of a Study in Balance, from László Moholy-Nagy's Preliminary Course, author: Johannes Zabel / photo: Lucia Moholy, 1923–1924

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His universal oeuvre ranged from light, lighting design, photography, photograms and film to kinetic-constructive systems and the Light-Space Modulator. In his opinion, the traditional panel painting was no longer contemporary.

Moholy-Nagy adopted Itten’s teaching method in the preliminary course by asking students to carry out independent studies of material. He did not want to promote the pure individuality of his students, but to systematically introduce them, through a synthesis of the senses, to the technical foundations of statics, dynamics and equilibrium. Moholy-Nagy’s lessons on the surface, or the plane, focused on the medium of collage.

 

Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © unbekannt
Tactile Board, from László Moholy-Nagy's Preliminary Course, author: Otti Berger, 1928.

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