László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946)
László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946)
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László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946)

CH3 Al

László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946)
CH3 Al
signed and dated 'L. Moholy=Nagy 38' (lower left); signed again twice, dated again and titled 'L. Moholy=Nagy CH3 Al (1938) L. MOHOLY=NAGY' (on the reverse)
oil on polished and incised silberit mounted on panel
Panel size: 12 x 12 in. (30.5 x 30.5 cm.)
Mount size: 20 x 20 in. (50.8 x 50.8 cm.)
Executed in 1938
Private collection, Chicago (acquired from the artist).
Private collection, New York (by descent from the above); sale, Christie's, New York, 8 November 2012, lot 482.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art and New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Lászlo Moholy-Nagy, May 1969-April 1970, p. 58, no. 33.

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Lot Essay

Hattula Moholy-Nagy has confirmed the authenticity of this work

Moholy-Nagy taught at the Bauhaus in Weimar, embodying the school's Utopian idea to unify art and industry. His devotion to instilling a deep understanding of the essence of man-made materials made him the ideal leader for the metal workshop, from which several iconic Bauhaus objects would emerge. As he wrote in "Material," a chapter from his seminal work The New Vision first published in the United States in 1938, "The synthetic approach to structure is introduced by experience with the material, the amassing of impressions often appearing unimportant at first" (New York, 2005, p. 23).
In 1937, Moholy-Nagy moved to Chicago to become the director of the new Bauhaus, bringing with him many of the ideas he explored at the Bauhaus in Weimar. CH3 Al, from 1938, is part of the CH painting series and not only demonstrated his ongoing dedication to metal work but also his explorations in the spatial possibilities afforded by a flat surface, using the qualities of the media to effect sophisticated patterns of layered transparency and tactile variety. The floating forms of the abstract composition in CH3 Al are painted in, overlapped, and spliced apart with the precision of a design master who understood exactly how to marry the properties of aluminum with expression of line and sophisticated contrasts of pigment.
The scholar Kristina Passuth writes that, ultimately, "behind his achievements in painting, graphics, design, photography, writing and teaching there lay a new interpretation of the role of art. The reason for Moholy-Nagy's desire to become, in his own words, a 'total' man, for his abandoning traditional easel painting and his attraction to every technical innovation, was that he insisted on an art which would be in close contact with life" (Moholy-Nagy, New York, 1985, p. 74).

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