The giant magenta mural stood out in the corner of my eye while crossing the street. I thought, “isn’t that László Moholy-Nagy?” I had been walking away from the mural, but I re-crossed the street to get a closer look. The quote under the mural confirmed, indeed it is the Bauhaus photography professor!
But I’m still perplexed. Did he live in this building? And it’s named the Schatz Building?
A quick Google search reveals a webpage for the Schatz Building that explains, “In 1939, Moholy-Nagy founded the School of Design in the Schatz Building.” The photo of Moholy-Nagy was taken by his then-wife, Lucia Moholy in 1926.
Heh, so the building that now houses the West Egg cafe was once the School of Design! Wow. My brother and I did our high school history fair project on the School of Design! I recognized the photo immediately, because László Moholy-Nagy is one of my favorite artists.
Moholy-Nagy was a highly experimental artist emphasizing integrating technology into art. His wikipedia page says, “He experimented with the photographic process of exposing light sensitive paper with objects overlain on top of it, called photogram.” Andrea Rosen Gallery writes, “he was a pioneer of his time, exploring the complete transformation of light, reflection, and transparency through different media.”
A few quotes from Laszlo:
“The illiterate of the future will be the person ignorant of the use of the camera as well as the pen.” from the book Bilder der Photograpie – Ein Album photographischer Metaphern.
How fitting is this quote in our day and age with everyone carrying a camera around in their pocket via their cellphones. Our ability to instantly create and publish photos everywhere has made everyone a photographer. Today you don’t know how to use a camera, then you could be considered illiterate!
“The enemy of photography is the convention, the fixed rules of ‘how to do’. The salvation of photography comes from the experiment.” Ever the experimenter! Gotta love him.
How long has this mural been up?
The first appearance of the Moholy-Nagy mural on Google Street View is November 2015. Before that it was the Pritzker Military Museum & Library! In 2011 the Military Museum moved to the second floor of 104 S. Michigan Ave. Wacky.
Future Present presents a wide body of works ranging in date from 1920, when the artist moved to Germany, until his death in Chicago in 1946. One room shows 38 photomontages—nearly all known compositions in nearly every physical variant—brought together for the first time. Another presents three “telephone paintings,” a single abstract composition that Moholy ordered in three sizes from an enamel sign factory in 1923; this trio of industrial paintings has been separated for decades. All six of Moholy’s iconic, plunging views from the Berlin Radio Tower are united in another room, while a multimedia installation, Room of the Present, which Moholy conceived in 1930 but could not finish, is brought to life as a room of its own.
Special emphasis is given to Moholy’s time in the United States, where his art moved from planar painterly abstractions to three-dimensional hybrids of painting and sculpture. Never have so many of the artist’s late works in Plexiglas—wall-mounted, freestanding, and hanging in midair—been seen together. These works came from Moholy’s teaching at the “Chicago Bauhaus,” which is also highlighted through a showing of student work as well as a “teaching wall” that frames Moholy’s greatest pedagogical ideas. The show closes with Moholy’s recorded voice and a projection of abstract color slides that the artist made in part by recording the scribble-like trace of headlights and taillights on Lake Shore Drive at night.
Sounds like a sweet show. I’ll be there with my camera!