Moholy-Nagy: Future Present at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), through June 18, 2017

“The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents Moholy-Nagy: Future Present, the first comprehensive retrospective of the pioneering artist and educator László Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946) to be seen in the United States in nearly 50 years. This exhibition examines the rich and varied career of the Hungarian-born modernist. One of the most versatile figures of the twentieth century avant-garde, Moholy (as he is often called) believed in the potential of art as a vehicle for social transformation and in the value of new technologies in harnessing that potential. He was a pathbreaking painter, photographer, sculptor, designer, and filmmaker as well as a prolific writer and an influential teacher in both Germany and the United States. Among his innovations were experiments with cameraless photography; the use of industrial materials in painting and sculpture; research with light, transparency, and movement; work at the forefront of abstraction; fluidity in moving between the fine and applied arts; and the conception of creative production as a multimedia endeavor. Radical for the time, these are now all firmly part of contemporary art practice.

The exhibition includes approximately 300 works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, collages, photographs, photograms, photomontages, films, and examples of graphic, exhibition, and theater design. A highlight is the full-scale realization of the Room of the Present, an immersive installation that is a hybrid of exhibition space and work of art, seen here for the first time in the United States. This work—which includes photographic reproductions, films, images of architectural and theater design, and examples of industrial design—was conceived by Moholy around 1930 but realized only in 2009.” — Los Angeles County Museum of Art

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László Moholy-Nagy, F in Field, 1920, gouache and collage on paper, 8 11/16 × 6 15/16 in., private collection, courtesy of Kunsthandel Wolfgang Werner, Bremen/Berlin, © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

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László Moholy-Nagy, Title unknown, 1920/21, gouache, collage, and graphite on paper, 9 5/8 × 6 3/8 in., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of Kate Steinitz (M.69.51.1), © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

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László Moholy-Nagy, 19, 1921, oil on canvas, 44 × 36 1/2 in., Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, BR53.44, © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College

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László Moholy-Nagy, Red Cross and White Balls, 1921, collage, ink, graphite, and watercolor on paper, 8 7/16 × 11 7⁄16 in., Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf, K 1956-11, © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, photo © Museum Kunstpalast – Horst Kolberg – ARTOTHEK

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László Moholy-Nagy, Construction, 1922, oil and graphite on panel, 21 3/8 × 17 15/16 in., Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of Lydia Dorner in memory of Dr. Alexander Dorner, BR61.30, © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College

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László Moholy-Nagy, Q, 1922/23, collage, watercolor, ink, and graphite on paper attached to carbon paper, 23 3⁄16 × 18 1⁄4 in., National Gallery of Art, Washington, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, 1982.27.1, © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

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László Moholy-Nagy, A II (Construction A II), 1924, oil and graphite on canvas, 45 5⁄8 × 53 5⁄8 in., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, 43.900, © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, photo © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, by Kristopher McKay

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László Moholy-Nagy, Photograph (Self-Portrait with Hand), 1925/29, printed 1940/49, gelatin silver print, 9 5/16 × 7 in., Galerie Berinson, Berlin, © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

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László Moholy-Nagy, Photogram, 1925/26, gelatin silver photogram, 7 3/16 × 9 1/2 in., Museum Folkwang, Essen, 58/95, © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, photo © Museum Folkwang Essen – ARTOTHEK

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László Moholy-Nagy, Photogram, 1926, gelatin silver print, 9 3/8 x 7 in., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Ralph M. Parsons Fund, © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

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László Moholy-Nagy, Cover and design for Malerei Photographie Film (Painting Photography Film), 1st ed., Bauhausbücher (Bauhaus Books) 8 (Albert Langen Verlag, 1925), Bound volume, 9 1/16 × 7 1/16 in., collection of Richard S. Frary, © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

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László Moholy-Nagy, Once a Chicken, Always a Chicken, 1925, photomontage (halftone reproductions, paper, watercolor, and grapite) on paper, 15 × 19 in., Alice Adam, Chicago, © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

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László Moholy-Nagy, AL 3, 1926, oil, industrial paint, and graphite on aluminum, 15 3/4 × 15 3/4 in., Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California, The Blue Four Galka Scheyer Collection, P.1953.293, © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

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László Moholy-Nagy, A 19, 1927, oil and graphite on canvas, 31 1⁄2 × 37 5⁄8 in., Hattula Moholy-Nagy, Ann Arbor, Michigan, © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

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László Moholy-Nagy, Photograph (Light Modulator in Repose), 1943, gelatin silver print, 6 7/16 x 4 1/2 in., George Eastman Museum, Purchased with funds provided by Eastman Kodak Company, 1981.2163.0059, © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

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László Moholy-Nagy, Photograph (Light Modulator in Motion), 1943, gelatin silver print, 6 9/16 x 4 7/16 in., George Eastman Museum, Purchased with funds provided by Eastman Kodak Company, 1981.2163.0059, © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

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László Moholy-Nagy, Vertical Black, Red, Blue, 1945, oil and incised lines on Plexiglas, on original base, 18 × 14 1/4 × 6 1/4 in., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Purchased with funds provided by Alice and Nahum Lainer, the Ducommun and Gross Acquisition Fund, the Fannie and Alan Leslie Bequest, and the Modern and Contemporary Art Council (M.2012.135a-b), © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, photo © 2016 Museum Associates/LACMA

Moholy-Nagy: Future Present is co-organized by Carol S. Eliel, Curator of Modern Art, LACMA; Karole P. B. Vail, Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and Matthew S. Witkovsky, Richard and Ellen Sandor Chair and Curator, Department of Photography, Art Institute of Chicago. The exhibition’s tour began at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, continued at the Art Institute of Chicago, and concludes at LACMA.

Images courtesy Los Angeles County Museum of Art.