László Moholy-Nagy - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 14, 2020 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Sotheby’s, London, Important Avant-Garde Photographs of the 1920s and 1930s, 2 May 1997, Lot 118

  • Literature

    Heyne, Neusüss, and Molderings, Moholy-Nagy: The Photograms: Catalogue Raisonne, fgm 247 and p. 230
    Haus, Photographs and Photograms: Moholy-Nagy, pl. 129
    László Moholy-Nagy: The Art of Light, p. 120

  • Catalogue Essay

    This dynamic photogram image comes from László Moholy-Nagy’s time in Dessau (1925-28), one of the most productive periods in his career. By that point, Moholy had mastered the photogram process and transformed it into an exceedingly effective expressive medium. This image, with its strong diagonal composition and nuanced presentation of objects against a deep black background, is one of the most dramatic images from this time. Its composition relates to work Moholy himself was concurrently producing in other media, as well as to that of the Constructivists. The location of the original unique photogram, upon which this print is based, is unknown.

    Moholy included this enlarged photogram in his 1935 one-man exhibition at the Künstlerhaus Brno, in which he showed a number of other enlarged photographic works. An installation view shows this image, in this format, hanging in a horizontal orientation just to the right of his fotoplastik, Jealousy (cf. Moholy-Nagy: The Photograms: Catalogue Raisonné, p. 220). The Brno retrospective was essentially identical to the selection of works Moholy showed in the seminal Film und Foto exhibition in Stuttgart in 1927, and it can be assumed that this image was included there, as well.

    Moholy made the present large-format print around 1929, as part of a project to create a portfolio of his best photograms. This set, now known as the Giedion portfolio, consisted of 10 enlargements of Moholy photograms and was to be published in an edition of 20. It is doubtful that the entire edition was completed, as only a small number of the individual prints are extant. The only full set of the 10 images from this portfolio is at the Kupferstichkabinett of the Kunstmuseum Basel. In Moholy-Nagy: The Photograms: Catalogue Raisonné, Renate Heyne locates six other prints of the present image, four in institutional collections.



Gelatin silver print, printed circa 1929.
15 3/4 x 11 7/8 in. (40 x 30.2 cm)
The photographer’s ‘berlin-chbg. 9, fredericiastr. 27 atelier’ and ‘foto moholy-nagy’ stamps, the latter annotated ‘gramm’ in pencil, and with other notations in unidentified hands in crayon and pencil on the verso.

$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $375,000

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Sarah Krueger
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Vanessa Hallett
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New York Auction 14 October 2020