Written by Nicholas Giorgini
The Maholy Nagy exhibition included a large range of work, from photograms to sculpture. I was previously only familiar with his photograms, but his sculptural work is really extraordinary. Some of his sculpture was like looking at a photogram in reality, the sculpture served as an interruption to light that cast a remarkable shadow on the wall or platform. The use of light and shadow is more interesting in real space rather than on a two-dimensional surface. Photograms themselves are somewhat boring after the first few, however constructing one before the viewer’s eyes is much more interesting.
The two-dimensional work was less interesting than the three-dimensional work. I’ve never been a huge fan of his work, however the flat work just seemed to be pointless for the most part. The shapes and colors seemed rather arbitrary. There were interesting things going on with transparency and color relationship but not interesting enough to hold my attention for more than a few moments. I found myself walking past much of the flat work after taking photographs for writing the review. I will say however, that the presentation of the curving room was a great way to lead the viewer through the space and change the viewer’s relationship to the work. Rather than being in a rectangle or square room with work on the walls, the curved false walls provided a wonderful flow for the viewer to move through the space. What the two-dimensional work lacked in getting my attention was made up in the three-dimensional work. The metal and plexi-glass work was extremely interesting. The plexi was incised and formed to activate space in exciting and interesting ways.
The most interesting two-dimensional work in the exhibition was the double sided frame that had two works, one on either side. This work protruded into the space of the viewer and granted a very different experience. This is something I myself have done in much the same way, without the knowledge that Maholy Nagy had done it. This method of presentation allows for an entirely new dimension to view flat work, instead of viewing it as a two-dimensional work it is suddenly taken into the realm of sculpture. What does it mean to view a two-dimensional work as sculpture? The reality of this question is that two-dimensional work already exists in the three-dimensional world that is simply forgotten or looked past. The exhibition could have almost been mistaken for a contemporary exhibition, which speaks about how much Maholy Nagy was questioning the art world with his work. While some of the work was uninteresting, the rest of it was extremely enticing.
Written by Zoey Wan
Moholy-Nagy:Future Present is an retrospective exhibition of László Moholy-Nagy, the pioneer of modern design and industrial art. This exhibition includes over 300 works of Moholy had created within various kinds of mediums. From painting to sculpture; personal creation to publications; and from experimental works to commercial commission…
This wide range of collection is curated in both chronological and categorized flow. The first section of the exhibition is majorly displaying Moholy early paintings that indicate his dedication in experimenting and constructing the optical structures that reflect the “modern eyes”of his generation. The gallery interior of this section is rather plain, which in a way echoes with the simplicity and rationality of Moholy’s creation. Although this exhibition has the intention to emphasize Moholy’s life and creation in the United States, the first section really lost a sense of direction. I personally found myself having a hard time getting my mind into this exhibition when I entered the gallery. It’s more like I just cut through the exhibition in a sudden. I was considering for people who probably know Moholy — but not that much — might have a similar experience as I had.
The second section starts to show Moholy’s personality further. Self-awareness and sentimental elements are hardly found in Moholy’s works. He was motivated to make his work not personal-related, and more accessible in understanding as well as design ideology. However, the Photomontage collection stands out quite uniquely. These collages and edits of photo-clips interact playfully with the negative space. This series of work reveals the part of Moholy’s thinking and interest, as well as the humor in his personality. I really enjoyed looking at the collages, and I was also seeing how this smart playing of images still deeply influencing contemporary graphic design especially in magazine layout and composition.
Starting from the Room of the Present, I finally felt like I’m stepping into not only just a collection of Moholy-Nagy, but also an ideology presentation of him. The chronological pathway of this exhibition help me to observe better on the changing concept and design aesthetics in Moholy’s works and how they were corresponding the technology of the time. I can see the multimedia practice had been thoroughly adopted by Moholy, and he started to apply this practice to almost every aspects of his design. From installation, theatre and interior design, to a little piece of paper form; Moholy truly realized the idea that art and design should run parallel with the technology, and aesthetics should not be confined by class and tradition. The variety of the displaying objects, projects and artworks assembled an exciting scene of the progression in applied art and design. Looking around the final section of the exhibition, I noticed by the time Moholy moved to Chicago, he started to adopt more organic elements into his work. This is an evidence of Moholy’s pursuit of industrial development.
This exhibition shows me how Moholy brought his art ideology from Europe to America. I also observed that how Moholy and Bauhaus school influenced the modern applied design of the West. It is very interesting to see the distinctions in modern aesthetics between the East and West. This thinking of the different design logic and aesthetics in industrial, infrastructure and many other daily objects under different cultural framework actually interests me a lot. But that would be another complicated and worth-digging topic.