Moholy-Nagy: Exhibition Overview at the Guggenheim


♪ KAROLE P. B. VAIL: Moholy-Nagy was a multidisciplinary artist working in Europe in the 1920s and ‘30s. He taught at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau, and in 1937 he went to Chicago to head the New Bauhaus and eventually open his own Institute of Design. Well, Moholy was definitely an avant-garde artist. I think one of the most significant and exciting artists of the 20th century. One of the most extraordinary things about him is how he succeeded in working across disciplines, across media, so fluidly. He happened to work in many different disciplines, including painting, photography, set and stage design, advertising, industrial design, film, works on paper, collages, and sculpture. KAROLE P. B. VAIL: He believed that light was the new medium. This idea can be literally seen and felt through every media he worked with– of course in his photography and especially in his photograms, but also in his sculpture. JULIE BARTEN: The transformation of something which is so insubstantial, and his ability to kind of harness it and make it do what he wants it to do, and turn it into something tangible and something beautiful, for me that’s kind of at the crux of what draws me to his work. KAROLE P. B. VAIL: In the United States there hasn’t been a major solo exhibition in nearly 50 years. We really wanted to present Moholy as a whole, as opposed to just a photographer or a Bauhaus painter. JULIE BARTEN: The physical experience of seeing these works is really critical, especially because they’re all about light, and so you see how they’re interacting with light. JULIE BARTEN: I mean, some of the works actually shift as you, as the spectator, walk by them. You’re seeing shifting shadows. You can catch that frozen in a photograph, but you don’t catch that kind of kinetic aspect of it unless you see it in person. I mean, I think that’s why one of the reasons this exhibition is going to be so exciting. KAROLE P. B. VAIL: Moholy was a pioneer in that he believed very much in education, just as much as he believed in art. JULIE BARTEN: He was both an incredible craftsperson and an incredible visionary. KAROLE P. B. VAIL: Because of his overall inventiveness and curiosity, and also belief in humanity and what could be achieved through art, he’s one of these timeless artists. I think he could probably be at home today.

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