Quick Design History: Laszlo Moholy-Nagy #ThrowbackThursday

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László Moholy-Nagy (1895 – 1946)

László Moholy-Nagy was a Hungarian painter, photographer and professor. But I bet you’d never guess he started out as soldier in World War I! He was honorarily discharged from the Austro-Hungarian army and headed straight for the private art school Hungarian Fauve. Thank goodness he did, because our design world wouldn’t be the same without him.

In the 1920s, Moholy-Nagy taught the foundation course at the Bauhaus—the most influential modernist art and design school.  The school merged industrial arts, architecture, and art into a unified curriculum making a major impact on the future of western design.

Moholy-Nagy experimented in many different fields including photography, typography, sculpture, painting, industrial design and printmaking. But it’s important to note that he always had a practical and technological bent to his approach.


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His experimentation across multiple mediums led to graphic design work characterised by bold typography in combination with photography. If you look at his work, you’ll see he often combined bold geometry with softer organic forms.

Moholy-Nagy believed that artists should transform into designers to answer humanity’s needs.

I’m continually fascinated with his exploration of how space, time and light interact. Maholy-Nagy even coined the term “the New Vision” for his belief that photography could create whole new way of seeing.

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And just a final note, Moholy-Nagy has an amazing name. I mean, why didn’t my mum call me László!?

Who’s up next week for Throwback Thursday? It’s a brilliant art director who famously said: “Being a magazine designer is a little bit like being an orchestra conductor.”

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