Hungary, 1995. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946), K XVIII, 1923. Sc. 3509. Mi. 4355

Germany, 1983. L. Moholy-Nagy, Licht-Raum-Modulator, 1930. Scott 1387

K XVIII, 1923
by LŗszlÚ Moholy - Nagy

A page of Dr. Claude Wainstain, France

K XVIII, 1923

       When, in 1923, the Bauhaus managers decided to hire a new teacher, they appealed Moholy-Nagy, a young Hungarian who recently came from Budapest and was already quite famous for his abstract compositions and his theoretical writings. The consequences of such a choice were decisive. Moholy-Nagy completely changed the spirit of the well-known Weimar School, introducing the industrial rigor and the geometrical abstraction he got from the Russian constructivists.

       He had discovered painting in Odessa, in 1917, while recovering from a serious war-injury, and the quiet law-student from a good Jewish family turned suddenly into an avant-garde artist, the revolutionary days exaltation as back-cloth. Multi-gifted autodidactic man, a kind of proletarian Mahler in worker-dress and wearing iron-circled glasses, Moholy-Nagy was able to do everything, construction, collage, typography, artistic conception, "everything", said his students ironically, "but speak German without any accent".

      He pottered strange glass, wood and iron scaffoldings, had them crossed by moving light-rays, then called them "Space modulators", like the one appearing on the German stamp issued on Feb. 08, 1983. He also had a passion for experimental photography, invented new printing types, and declaimed, in front of his stupefied students: "Light, total Light will breed the total Man ! " 

     In 1934, Moholy-Nagy had to leave Germany, and after two years of wandering, he ultimately settled in Chicago, where he managed the "New Bauhaus" and then the "Institute of Design". This man who the Nazis called "Judeo-Bolshevik", was called by the communists "a dogmatic" and "slave of capitalist economy". So we had to wait until these last years cultural thaw (i.e. the fall of communism in East Europe) to see one of his compositions, called "K-XVIII", on an Hungarian stamp, issued on Sep 18th 1995. 

      Very few know how much this artist influenced our daily life, and that we owe him not only our flexible desk-lamps and our chrome-steeled-coffee-pots design, but also the elegant typography which makes this magazine look so stylish. "MOHOLY-NAGY was also the name of a boutique, Galerie Vivienne, in Paris, where, a few years ago, the Bauhaus master's own grand-son was selling luxurious shirts. "At least, " his ancestors would have said , "at least, a real job for a Jew! ". Claude Wainstain.

Article published in LíArche, April 1996



Revised: 02/11/01 .
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