Major Retrospective of László Moholy-Nagy Opens at the Guggenheim on May 27, 2016


László Moholy-Nagy

CH BEATA I, 1939

Oil and graphite on canvas, 118.9 x 119.8 cm

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection 48.1128

© 2015 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

(NEW YORK, NY, January 4, 2016)— From May 27 to September 7, 2016,
the Solomon R. Moholy-Nagy: Future Present examines the
full career of the utopian modernist who believed in the power of art
and technology as a vehicle for social transformation and the betterment
of humanity. Despite Moholy-Nagy’s prominence and the visibility of his
work during his lifetime, few exhibitions have conveyed his
experimental engagement, enthusiasm for industrial materials, and his
radical innovations with movement and light. This long overdue
presentation, which encompasses his multidisciplinary methodology,
brings together more than 300 works drawn from public and private
collections across Europe and the United States, some of which have
never before been shown publicly in this country.

Guggenheim Museum will present the first comprehensive
retrospective in nearly fifty years of the work of pioneering artist and
educator László Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946). Organized by the Solomon R.
Guggenheim Foundation, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Los Angeles
County Museum of Art,

Each of the three organizing institutions has a history of collecting
and presenting the artist’s works or a relationship to the interaction
of art and technology, culminating in a comprehensive exhibition,
innovative conservation efforts, and a scholarly exhibition catalogue
examining Moholy-Nagy’s practice and influence. After its debut
presentation in New York, the exhibition will be on view in Chicago from
October 2, 2016–January 3, 2017, and in Los Angeles from February
12–June 18, 2017.

Moholy-Nagy: Future Present provides an opportunity to
examine the full career of this influential Bauhaus teacher, founder of
Chicago’s Institute of Design, and versatile artist who paved the way
for increasingly interdisciplinary and multimedia work and practice.
Among his radical innovations were experimenting with cameraless
photography; using industrial materials in painting and sculpture;
researching with light, transparency, and movement; working at the
forefront of abstraction; and moving fluidly between the fine and
applied arts. The exhibition features collages, drawings, ephemera,
films, paintings, photograms, photographs, photomontages, and
sculptures, underscoring a legacy of cross-disciplinary experimentation
and a remarkable ability to work across mediums. As part of the
exhibition, a contemporary fabrication of a space originally conceived
by Moholy-Nagy in 1930, Room of the Present, will be on display
at all three venues, for the first time in the United States. The
space, which was not realized in Moholy-Nagy’s lifetime, contains
aspects of the artist’s exhibition and product design, including a
replica of his iconic kinetic Light Prop for an Electric Stage (1929–30). Room of the Present
illustrates the artist’s belief in the power of images and his approach
to the various means with which to view them—a highly relevant paradigm
in today’s constantly shifting and evolving technological world.

Born in 1895 in Austria-Hungary (now southern Hungary), Moholy-Nagy
moved to Vienna briefly and then to Berlin in 1920, where he encountered
Dada artists, Russian Constructivists, and Galerie Der Sturm, where he
exhibited work on several occasions. After teaching at the Bauhaus in
Weimar and then Dessau in the 1920s, producing books and painting
extensively across mediums, he enjoyed success in Berlin as a commercial
artist, exhibition and stage designer, and typographer. Adolf Hitler’s
rise to power made life increasingly difficult for the avant-garde in
Germany; thus in 1934 Moholy-Nagy moved with his family to the
Netherlands and then to London. Once he moved to Chicago in 1937, he
never returned to Europe. In the United States, he focused on opening a
school of design and made some of his most original and experimental
work. He gave his full attention to American exhibition venues, showing
nearly three dozen times across the United States—including in four solo
shows—before his premature death from leukemia in November 1946. His
interdisciplinary and investigative approach, migrating from the school
to the museum or gallery space, pushed towards what he referred to as
the Gesamtwerk, the total work for which he searched throughout his life.

Moholy-Nagy: Future Present is organized by the Solomon R.
Guggenheim Foundation, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Los Angeles
County Museum of Art. Karole P. B. Vail, Associate Curator, is the
Guggenheim’s organizing curator for the exhibition.

The New York presentation of Moholy-Nagy: Future Present is
made possible by Lavazza. Funding is generously provided by the David
Berg Foundation, The Hilla von Rebay Foundation, the William Talbott
Hillman Foundation, and the Robert Lehman Foundation. The Leadership
Committee for the exhibition, chaired by Peter and Dede Lawson-Johnston,
is gratefully acknowledged for its support, with special thanks to
Achim Moeller. Additional funding is also provided by the National
Endowment for the Arts.

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