László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE SWISS COLLECTION
László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946)

Composition G4

László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946)
Composition G4
signed, dated and inscribed 'Moholy-Nagy zu Galalithbild G4 (26)' (on the reverse of the paper); signed and inscribed 'Moholy-Nagy G26' (on the backboard)
India ink and wash on paper under painted red Galalith
15¾ x 19.5/8 in. (40 x 49.8 cm.)
Executed in 1926
Private collection, Zurich, by whom acquired directly from the artist, and thence by descent to the present owners.
Exh. cat., Albers and Moholy-Nagy: from the Bauhaus to the New World, London, 2006, no. 13 (illustrated p. 18; titled 'Composition').
A. Schulz Marty, 'Eine Galalithplatte als Gestaltungsmedium und Bildträger im Werk "Composition G4" von László Moholy-Nagy', in Zeitschrift fuer Kunsttechnologie und Konservierung, Worms-am-Rhein, 2007, vol. I, pp. 33-37 (illustrated pp. 36).
Zurich, Galerie Orlando, Das Bauhaus, Weimar, Dessau, Berlin und The New Bauhaus Chicago, April - October 2005.
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Adrienne Everwijn-Dumas
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Lot Essay

Mrs Hattula Moholy-Nagy has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

G4 was created in 1926 and perfectly showcases the incredible facility for innovation and composition of László Moholy-Nagy. This work features an array of geometric shapes in various tones of red, yet piercing through this is a crisp circle of white, acting as a counterpoint for the range of colours behind it. This composition appears to echo the Suprematism of Russian artists such as Kasimir Malevich and the rigour of the painters associated with De Stijl. It reveals the extent to which Moholy-Nagy had abandoned figurative subject-matter, seeing it as obsolete. Instead, he was pushing forward advances already made by artists associated with other avant garde movements, not least Cubism.

The composition of G4 also reveals Moholy-Nagy's profound interest in light. For this work, rather than being painted on a single surface, has in fact been created in layers. A sheet of paper contains the grounding of the composition, with bars of various degrees of darkness and the large circle created in pencil; over this is a sheet of red Galalith, an industrial, man-made, transparent material (which in turn has given the work its title - the G is an abbreviation). Onto the Galalith is painted the white disc.

Moholy-Nagy's techniques allowed him to explore colour and light, themes that were of continued fascination for him. He was a master of composition, as can be seen in his photographs as well as his paintings. In addition, he often used transparent materials in order to explore the way in which light and colour were transmitted, reflected and perceived. In G4, it is through the filter of the red Galalith that the base design, made with pencil on paper, is seen. This results in a glowing sense of depth to the work.

Galalith was an early, non-petroleum based form of plastic-like material whose name came from the Greek words for 'milk' and 'stone', paying tribute to the dairy protein involved in its creation. This was therefore an industrial material that Moholy-Nagy was bending to his own use. He was creating a modern way of representing the world, using media which were suited to his message. G4 thus reveals the intriguing combination of artistic inspiration and inventive process that underpinned so much of Moholy-Nagy's work, and indeed hints at why he had been invited by Walter Gropius to join the Bauhaus. By the time G4 was created in 1926, the Bauhaus had moved to Dessau; two years later, Moholy-Nagy himself would leave it, concerned at the encroaching politics and the shift of emphasis away from art and towards science that was introduced by the new Professor of Architecture, Hannes Meyer.

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