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HomeContents > People > Photographers > László Moholy-Nagy

Born: László Weisz 
Dates:  1895, 20 July - 1946, 24 November
Born:  Austria-Hungary, Mohol Puszta, Bacborsod
Died:  US, IL, Chicago
Active:  Germany / US
Multi-talented artist and theoretician.

Preparing biographies

Biography provided by Focal Press 
Moholy-Nagy was one of the 20th century’s most influential creative intellects and theoreticians. He set new goals for all of the visual arts, promoting photography not as a picture-making medium, but as a method of experimentation for learning. He was a professor from 1923 to 1928 at the Bauhaus, the highly influential German school of art and design founded in 1919 by Walter Gropius. Moholy-Nagy had started his adult life studying law. After being wounded and held as a POW during WWI, the revolutionary art movement, MA, in Hungary got his attention. He then absorbed energy from the new Dadaist and Constructivist art he witnessed when he moved to Berlin. By 1922 he was making photograms and photomontage ("foto-plastik") with his artist-wife, Lucia Schultz Moholy (she gets half credit for these innovations as well as doing the darkroom work). When he was hired at the Bauhaus, Moholy-Nagy was in charge of the foundation year. He made all students make photograms and "light space modulators" which they had to photograph in variable lighting. "Light" was the magic catalyst in art he preached. His own work also included photographs made from unusual angles, negative images, and films. One of several books he wrote endorsed Neue Sehen (New Vision) — Malerei, Fotografie, Film (Painting, Photography, Film) published in 1925. He fled Germany when the Nazis took control and eventually came to Chicago where he was appointed Director of the New Bauhaus in 1937. A year later he created the Institute of Design in Chicago and taught there until his death. 
(Author: Ken White - Rochester Institute of Technology) 
Michael Peres (Editor-in-Chief), 2007, Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th edition, (Focal Press) [ISBN-10: 0240807405, ISBN-13: 978-0240807409] 
(Used with permission) 

Further research

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Lucia Moholy
Laszlo Moholy-Nagy 
Family history 
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch.

Visual indexes

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Internet biographies

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Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer. Go to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
 Go to website
The Cleveland Museum of Art, USA has a biography on this photographer. [Scroll down the page on this website as the biography may not be immediately visible.] Go to website
The International Photographers Hall of Fame has provided a biography. Go to website

Internet resources

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László Moholy-Nagy ... 

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Beaton, Cecil & Buckland, Gail 1975 The Magic Eye: The Genius of Photography from 1839 to the Present Day (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown & Company) p.154 [Useful short biographies with personal asides and one or more example images.] 
• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.333-334 
• Coke, Van Deren with Diana C. Du Pont 1986 Photography: A Facet of Modernism (New York: Hudson Hills Press, The San Francisco Museum of Art) p.179 
• Fernandez, Horacio (ed.) 2000 Fotografía Pública: Photography in Print 1919-1939 (Aldeasa) p.177-179 [This Spanish exhibition catalogue is one of the best sources for illustrations of photomontage and book design for the period between the two World Wars.] 
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on László Moholy-Nagy.] 
• Weaver, Mike (ed.) 1989 The Art of Photography 1839-1989 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press) p.462 [This exhibition catalogue is for the travelling exhibition that went to Houston, Canberra and London in 1989.] 
• Witkin, Lee D. and Barbara London 1979 The Photograph Collector’s Guide (London: Secker and Warburg) p.195-196 [Long out of print but an essential reference work - the good news is that a new edition is in preparation.] 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

• Gruber, Renate and L. Fritz Gruber 1982 The Imaginary Photo Museum (New York: Harmony Books) p.255 
• Naef, Weston 1995 The J. Paul Getty Museum - Handbook of the Photographic Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum) p.148-149 
• Naef, Weston 2004 Photographers of Genius at the Getty (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum) [For this photographer there is a description and three sample photographs from the Getty collection. p.120-123] 
• Newhall, Beaumont 1982 The History of Photography - Fifth Edition (London: Secker & Warburg) [One or more photographs by László Moholy-Nagy are included in this classic history.] 
• Szarkowski, John 1973 Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art (New York: The Museum of Modern Art) p.88 [Analyzes a single photograph by László Moholy-Nagy.] 
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