George Stefanis

László Moholy-Nagy, the first modern designer?

09 Oct 2017

Recently I was on a trip to New York. One of my first destinations was the Museum of Modern Art, and for a good reason. The MoMA is one of the best museums I've even been (along with Tate Modern in London).

In there I had the opportunity to see amazing exhibits like sculptures from the amazing Louise Bourgeois, paintings from Pablo Picasso and one of my favourites Giorgio de Chirico . While these artists could have made MoMA my most memorable destination, this time around I found out about László Moholy-Nagy - Wikipedia

Telephone pictures

Maholy-Nagy was a Hungarian painter and photographer associated with the Bauhaus movement. He created a lot of remarkable work, during his lifetime, but there is a series of exhibits from his work that captured my attention. It's the picture above. These are 3 exhibits named EM1, EM2 and EM3, each one smaller than the other. They only work together.

The interesting thing about them is that Maholy-Nagy didn't make them. In a world dominated by hand crafted art he dared, in 1923, to express:

his radical rejection of the handmade unique artwork in favor of serial mechanical production.

He later claimed that to have ordered these works by telephone, underscoring:

the role of the artist in the technological age as a producer of ideas, not objects.

If this last sentence doesn't exactly describe our modern designers I don't know what does. Maholy-Nagy was another pioneer to come out of the Bauhaus and If he was still alive he would have been right to say "I told you so" about the role of artists.

Also, take a moment and think that around 1923 artists like Paul Cézann and Pablo Picasso were still creating classic paintings. For Maholy-Nagy to say something like this, it would only be blasphemy to the ears of classic painters.

Maholy-Nagy died in 1946 in Chicago from leukaemia. If you ever find yourself to New York take some time to visit MoMA and the Guggenheim museum to see some of his legacy.

More info: László Moholy-Nagy. EM 2 (Telephone Picture). 1923 | MoMA

Laszlo Maholy-Nagy

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