Moholy-Nagy, László (1895–1946) By Botar, Oliver I.
Born in Bácsborsód, Hungary, László Moholy-Nagy was one of the most influential teachers, designers, and theoreticians of twentieth-century Modernism. As a professor at the Bauhaus (1923–8) and a central figure of International Constructivism, he pioneered modern interdisciplinary art and design practice and opposed traditional media hierarchies, thereby heralding the post-war media art revolution. In 1922, with Alfréd Kemény he authored ‘Dynamic-Constructive Energy System’, a manifesto of kinetic, participatory art applied in his proposal for an immersive Kinetic-Constructive System (1928). In 1922–3 he prefigured conceptual art in the Emaille series, ordered from an enamel sign-maker using graph-paper sketches and standardised colours. In Malerei, Photographie, Film (1927), a key manifesto of twentieth-century media art, he regarded technology as an extension of our sensorium, influencing media theorists Walter Benjamin, Sigfried Giedion, and Marshall McLuhan. Regarding light as ‘raw material’, Moholy-Nagy saw painting as just one possible form of ‘light art’. He conceptualised expanded cinema and coined the term ‘New Vision’ to refer to his call for sensory training and his reform of photography based on the camera’s technical capabilities. His mechanised Light Prop for an Electric Stage (1930) projected kinetic coloured light patterns, establishing kinetic light art. With Walter Gropius he edited bauhaus (1926–8) and the bauhausbücher series (1925–9).