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Saturday, May 31 • 2:30pm - 3:00pm
(Photographic Materials Session) Laszlo Moholy-Nagy: Characterization of his photographic work at the Art Institute of Chicago and his working practices

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A fundamental understanding of the history of László Moholy-Nagy’s body of work is incomplete without a thorough understanding of his working practices. Photography was central to his aesthetic and gave the direction to many of his non-photographic activities. Hence, this project encompasses a comprehensive study of his photographic work. This study includes the characterization of the physical properties and the materials analysis of the prints, crossing paths with historical and archival research. The characterization is achieved by making use of different illumination sources and observation tools. Non-invasive scientific analysis with X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) and reflectance Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) (In collaboration with the Conservation Science Department at AIC) complements these observations. This study aims to establish the basis for the history of the materials choices and working practices made by the artist throughout his life.

Moholy-Nagy, groundbreaking artist and one of the precursors of the German Bauhaus, came to Chicago in 1937. He was invited by the Association of Arts and Industry to direct the New Bauhaus, which later became the Institute of Design. There, he created a stimulating, experimental environment for the photographic arts. His legacy and the influence he had on the students remain to this day, as he is a key figure in the history of American Photography.

The Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago has a modest, but representative group of Moholy-Nagy’s photographic work; ranging from straight photographs, solarizations, photocollages, cliché verre to and most significantly, photograms. These photographs show a wide variety of formats, tonal ranges, finishing surfaces, coatings, paper tints, notations and signatures. Why is Moholy-Nagy’s body of work so diverse? Which photographic processes did he use to express particular ideas? What were the motives for his material choices? What was the master’s influence on his pupils (whose work is also reflected in the AIC collection)? These are some of the questions that have been tackled by this investigation.

The procedures and results of more than two years of research carried out during an in-depth study at the AIC on this topic will be shared in this talk.

Speaker(s)
avatar for Mirasol Estrada, [PA]

Mirasol Estrada, [PA]

Photograph Conservator, Private Practice
Mirasol Estrada is a private consultant photograph conservator. She’s gained considerable experience in the care and treatment of fine-art photography and in exhibition procedures. Her primary focus as the Mellon Fellow at the Art Institute of Chicago was the study of Lászl... Read More →


Saturday May 31, 2014 2:30pm - 3:00pm PDT
Grand Ballroom C