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László Moholy-Nagy (American, b. Hungary, 1895–1946)
Photogram, 1925
Gelatin silver print
7 × 9 3/8 in. (17.78 × 23.81 cm)
Purchase, Richard and Ethel Herzfeld Foundation Acquisition Fund M2006.31
Photo credit: John R. Glembin
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Not Currently on View

One of the most inventive and influential artists of the first half of the twentieth century, László Moholy-Nagy was a dedicated advocate of photography who, from 1923 to about 1930, worked primarily with photograms. The camera-less technique, which involves placing objects directly onto photographic paper for exposure and then developing the result, was especially appealing to Moholy. Not only did it inject everyday, "real world" objects into the artistic sphere, but it also used light to construct an image without mediation or interference. Moreover, the result was a unique, relatively unpredictable image that recalled little beyond light and form—fertile ground for forging a new way of seeing. This particular photogram is an excellent example of Moholy's facility with the medium. Its combination of geometry, texture, and tone within a dense, dark field demonstrates the depth of formal possibility he found inherent in basic photographic materials. In addition, the atmospheric shadow and inscrutable forms-tempered with modulated light-lends a dynamic, yet subtle, energy to the piece that combines mystery with transparency.

Exhibition History
Light Borne in Darkness: Photography Highlights from the Permanent Collection, Milwaukee Art Museum, November 24, 2015–April 10, 2016.

Moholy: An Education of the Senses, Loyola University Museum of Art, Chicago, Illinois, February 10–May 9, 2010.

This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.