After the bath (1931)

László Moholy-Nagy (1895 - 1946)

Information

Size

Material

Price

30,000 USD

Signature

Reproduced

no

Bibliography

Provenance

Exhibited

Kertész, Rodchenko, and Moholy-Nagy: Photographs from the Collection

Jan 28 –Jun 9, 1974

MoMA

New York

About

Moholy-Nagy started photographing in his last years in Hungary. His most prolific years of photography lasted from the mid to late twenties. He has no longer experimented with this medium in the United States. During his years at the Bauhaus, he founded and headed his photography department in Weimar from 1923 to 1928, and then moved to Dessau in 1925, where he worked on films and photomontages. After returning to Berlin, he ran a photo studio between 1928 and 1933, at which time he painted After the Bath.

Moholy-Nagy was extremely active in this second period in Berlin: working as a freelancer, setting up a studio, making commercials, exhibitions, stage and costume designs. His most famous photographs from this period, which he published in newspapers and books across Europe, have survived. His photos were characterized by the stretching of conventions, multiple exposures, steep diagonals, a frog and bird perspective, and the use of shadows. He made a large number of photograms and, with the development of a new technique, made negative prints of photographs. Moholy-Nagy was one of the first artists to create a work using purely mechanical means. He believed that artists should view photography as an objective medium for the transmission of light and shadow. He also believed that the concept behind the works was the most important part of the work of art, not who created the work. The approach that puts the original concept at the forefront is still alive today in contemporary art.

After the bath depicts two women, after a summer lakeside bathing, screwed into bath towels as they stand barefoot in the sun. The unusual, voyeuristic view of photoplasty is based on Moholy-Nagy's playful experiments, which provide a wide association space. The photograph is decomposed: Moholy-Nagy presses the figures into the upper left corner of the image, leaving the elbow of the left figure out of the composition. The two figures, as if waiting for the appearance of another element in space, turn their gaze in the opposite direction of the image, forcing the viewer to direct their eyes to the left or right edge of the image. Moholy-Nagy took the picture with a wide-angle lens, from a chest height, up close, so a sudden shortening can be observed on the two figures. The strong contrast of dark and light spots is also Moholy-Nagy's favorite photographic game, with which he reinterprets reality. The bright white bath towel bodies cast a black shadow on the gray lawn, transforming the figures into almost sculptural ones.

The photo was purchased by MoMA in New York in 1939 from Delphic Studio Galleries. The photo was featured in the museum's exhibition "Kertész, Rodchenko, and Moholy-Nagy: Photographs from the Collection", held between January and June 1974. From the photographs of Moholy-Nagy taken between 1922 and 1937, Mai Manó House recently organized an exhibition entitled “Photographs of the genius experimenter: László Moholy-Nagy”.

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