“As a painter, typographer, photographer, stage designer, and architect, Moholy was one of the most creative intelligences of our time.”
– Herbert Read
One of the great innovators of the European avant-garde, László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946) is best known for his affiliation with the famous Bauhaus school in Germany, where he taught from 1923-28. In 1937, at the invitation of Walter Paepcke, the Chairman of the Container Corporation of America, Moholy-Nagy moved to Chicago to become the director of the New Bauhaus. The philosophy of the school was basically unchanged from that of the original, and its headquarters was the Prairie Avenue mansion that architect Richard Morris Hunt designed for department store magnate Marshall Field.
Unfortunately, the school lost the financial backing of its supporters after only a single academic year and it closed in 1938. Paepcke, however, continued his own support, and in 1939, Moholy-Nagy opened the School of Design. In 1944, this became the Institute of Design, located in Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s, Crown Hall at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
“Design has many connotations. It is the organization of materials and processes in the most productive, economic way, in a harmonious balance of all elements necessary for a certain function. It is not a matter of façade, of mere external appearance; rather it is the essence of products and institutions, penetrating and comprehensive. Designing is a complex and intricate task. It is integration of technological, social and economic requirements, biological necessities, and the psychophysical effects of materials, shape, color, volume, and space: thinking in relationships. The designer must see the periphery as well as the core, the immediate and the ultimate, at least in the biological sense. He must anchor his special job in the complex whole. The designer must be trained not only in the use of materials and various skills, but also in appreciation of organic functions and planning. He must know that design is indivisible, that the internal and external characteristics of a dish, a chair, a table, a machine, painting, sculpture are not to be separated. The idea of design and the profession of the designer has to be transformed from the notion of a specialist function into a generally valid attitude of resourcefulness and inventiveness which allows projects to be seen not in isolation but in relationship with the need of the individual and the community. One cannot simply lift out any subject matter from the complexity of life and try to handle it as an independent unit.”
(Moholy-Nagy, Vision in Motion, 1947)
“There is design in organization of emotional experiences, in family life, in labor relations, in city planning, in working together as civilized human beings. Ultimately all problems of design merge into one great problem: ‘design for life’. In a healthy society this design for life will encourage every profession and vocation to play its part since the degree of relatedness in all their work gives to any civilization its quality. This implies that it is desirable that everyone should solve his special task with the wide scope of a true “designer” with the new urge to integrated relationships. It further implies that there is no hierarchy of the arts, painting photography, music, poetry, sculpture, architecture, nor of any other fields such as industrial design. They are equally valid departures toward the fusion of function and content in design.”
(Moholy-Nagy, Vision in Motion, 1947)
An exhaustive visual compendium of the modern movement, circa 1947. Includes many examples of Bauhaus and the New Bauhaus (Institute of Design). Designers, photographers, architects and artists represented in this volume are a cross-section 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.
Vision in Motion: László Moholy-Nagy, Hardcover, 9″ x 11″, 376 pages, 440 illustrations (11 in color). Book Design and Typography by the Author. Rare and Out of Print.
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