b. 1895, Borsod, Austria-Hungary; d. 1946, Chicago
László Moholy-Nagy was born July 20, 1895, in Bàcs-Borsod, Austria-Hungary. In 1913, he began law studies at the University of Budapest, but interrupted them the following year to serve in the Austro-Hungarian army. While recovering from a wound in 1917, he founded the artists’ group MA with Ludwig Kassak and others in Szeged, Hungary, and started a literary magazine called Jelenkor. After receiving his law degree, Moholy-Nagy moved to Vienna in 1919, where he collaborated on the Ma periodical Horizont. He traveled to Berlin in 1920 and began making “photograms” and Dada collages.
During the early 1920s, Moholy-Nagy contributed to several important art periodicals and coedited, with Kassak, Das Buch neuer Künstler, a volume of poetry and essays on art. In 1921, he met El Lissitzky in Germany and traveled to Paris for the first time. His first solo exhibition was organized by Herwarth Walden at the Der Sturm gallery in Berlin in 1922. During this period, Moholy-Nagy was a seminal figure in the development of Constructivism. While teaching at the Bauhaus in Weimar in 1923, he became involved in stage and book design and edited and designed, with Walter Gropius, the Bauhausbücher series published by the school. Moholy-Nagy moved with the Bauhaus to Dessau in 1925 and taught there until 1928, when he returned to Berlin to concentrate on stage design and film.
In 1930, he participated in the Internationale Werkbund Ausstellung in Paris. The artist moved to Amsterdam in 1934, the year a major retrospective of his work was held there, at the Stedelijk Museum. In 1935, Moholy-Nagy fled to London from the growing Nazi threat; there, he worked as a designer for various companies and on films and associated with Naum Gabo, Barbara Hepworth, and Henry Moore. In 1937, he was appointed director of the New Bauhaus in Chicago, which failed after less than a year because of financial problems. Moholy-Nagy established his own School of Design in Chicago in 1938 and in 1940 gave his first summer classes in rural Illinois. He joined the American Abstract Artists group in 1941 and in 1944 became a United States citizen. His book Vision in Motion was published in 1947, after his death on November 24, 1946, in Chicago.