Film and photography played central roles in the work of pioneering artist and designer László Moholy-Nagy, who experimented with light, abstraction, and staccato montage throughout his career. For this program, the improvisational group Text of Light, led by guitarists Lee Ranaldo and Alan Licht, performs alongside a selection of Moholy-Nagy’s radically inventive works including the spectacular Lightplay: Black-White-Gray (1930) and Berlin Still Life (1932), a portrait of the city’s economic climate in the years leading up to World War II. Joined by percussionist Tim Barnes, the musicians layer guitar, effects, and low-grade feedback, playing off one another to generate new aural spaces and insight to Moholy-Nagy’s visionary work.
1929–2016, Germany/France/USA, multiple formats, ca 50 min
Presented in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago in conjunction with Moholy-Nagy: Future Present.
Text of Light (2000) is a collective of experimental musicians who perform live, improvised scores to works by American avant-garde filmmakers, primarily of the 1950s and ‘60s. The group has performed at the Victoriaville Music Festival, Canada; Three Rivers Film Festival, Pittsburgh; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and the Whitney Museum, New York; and toured Europe in addition to playing various clubs and cinemas in New York and elsewhere. Founded by Lee Ranaldo and Alan Licht, members of the group have included Christian Marclay, DJ Olive, William Hooker, Ulrich Krieger, and Tim Barnes.
László Moholy-Nagy (b. 1895, Borsód, Austria-Hungary; d. 1946, Chicago) was an abstract painter, designer, typographer, photographer, filmmaker, and theorist who believed in the integration of technology and industry into the arts. He was an influential professor at the Weimar and Dessau Bauhaus and established the highly influential Institute of Design in Chicago. His posthumous exhibitions include In Memoriam: László Moholy-Nagy, the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, New York (1947); László Moholy-Nagy, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1969); László Moholy-Nagy, Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno Centre Julio Gonzalez, Valencia, Spain (1991); Technical Detours: The Early Works of Moholy-Nagy Reconsidered, Art Gallery of the CUNY Graduate Center, New York (2006); Laszlo Moholy-Nagy: Retrospektive, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2010); Moholy-Nagy: El arte de la Luz, Circulo de bellas artes, Madrid (2010); and Moholy-Nagy: Future Present, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Art Institute of Chicago, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2016–17).