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In the 1920s, rising artist László Moholy-Nagy taught at the revolutionary Bauhaus school in Weimar, Germany, alongside luminaries like Paul Klee, Josef Albers, Anni Albers, Gunta Stolzl, Wassily Kandinsky, and Marcel Breuer. An upstart within this esteemed group, Moholy established himself as a visionary, and his approach to teaching became the ethos of his work: training artists to live “happier lives in modernity.”
Forced into exile by the Nazis, Moholy moved to Chicago, where he found himself inspired by the sense of re-invention in the city. Initially at the New Bauhaus and ultimately through the Institute of Design, Moholy challenged students to create systemic, human-centered design. Motivated by the challenge of creating within the limitations of the Great Depression and then World War II, Moholy’s embrace of artistic versatility and technological possibility continues to reverberate in the artworld today. Objects that are now ubiquitous in our culture, such as the Dove soap bar, the Honey Bear, and the cover of the first issue of Playboy magazine were designed by students and alumni of The New Bauhaus. Graduates of the Institute of Design became renowned fine art photographers and pioneers of digital design in the internet’s early days.
Moholy’s own output as an artist remained “relentlessly experimental,” with pioneering work created in a range of media including painting, photography, typography, collage, sculpture, and film. His central lessons as a teacher were reflected in his own work: the thought behind creation was as important as the work itself. Unfortunately, his creative production was cut short by his untimely death at age 51 from leukemia—but his legacy lives on in his students who now teach his approach themselves, providing inspiration to anyone using art to make sense of the world. NR, 89 min.
“A team of filmmakers channeled their passion for architecture, art, and design into the production of an in-depth examination of Maholy’s art and vision for the future of design. The film, titled THE NEW BAUHAUS, utilizes specialized access to archives at the Moholy-Nagy Foundation and Maholy’s surviving daughter Hattula.” — Arch Daily
“Today, when newcomers to America are often regarded as suspect, Petter Ringbom and Marquise Stillwell of Opendox, the film’s production company, seek to highlight Moholy-Nagy‘s contributions as an immigrant. He never gained the recognition of Bauhaus leaders like Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, but Moholy-Nagy kept alive ‘the idea of unifying different disciplines.'” — New York Times
“You’ll never look at a bar of Dove soap the same way after watching this.” – RogerEbert.com
“Alysa Nahmias designs an aptly stylish documentary on the life, ideas and impact of Hungarian artist László Moholy-Nagy, who taught design in Chicago.” – Chicago Sun Times
“Viewers can only hope but aspire to the creed by which Moholy-Nagy lived his life.” – 812 Film Reviews