He had started to draw before he went into the army. In around 1918, his early paintings were figurative and tended towards Expressionism. When I saw his painting (1st image below) it reminds me of Paul Klee’s drawing. In his book, Abstract of an Artist, he wrote that at first his work was figurative because he felt that contemporary art of his day was chaotic. He didn’t understand Cubism, Fauvism, or Futurism. He studied the drawings of artists like Rembrandt and van Gogh and became fascinated by the expressive power of lines alone without halftones. Then he began to study composition and finally, the effects of color on composition. He made collages of juxtaposed colored paper strips and carried these configurations over into paintings of agricultural fields. By 1919, if not earlier, he was also experimenting with Dadaist compositions.”
In the 1920’s, Moholy Nagy met El Lissizky and became strongly influenced by Russian Constructivist. He also strongly supported Constructivist social philosophy, which saw art and the artist as active agents in improving society. In 1922, he re-discoverer the photogram, a photographic image made without camera, with Lucia.
Moholy Nagy became a teacher at Bauhaus replaced Johannes Itten in 1923. Bauhaus goal was to promote “a new unity of art, science, and technology in the service of humanity.” It has a similar goal to the constructivist. I was truly surprised he did some costume design for Bauhaus and Madame Butterfly as I thought only Oskar Schlemmer and his students worked on the theater of Bauhaus.
I do really like the photogram (last image) that he created. The great composition between black and white and the circle is placed perfectly. The rhythm of the shadow gives a nice contrast to the vivid black rectangular. This picture became the cover of one of his books designed by Jan Tschichold.
I got several Moholy Nagy’ books and I am highly recommended Vision in Motion which I would feature in this blog.