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Indepth Arts News:

"Light Display Machines: Two Works by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy"
2007-07-21 until 2007-11-04
Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard
Cambridge, MA, USA United States of America

This exhibition showcases the Busch-Reisinger Museum's newly acquired replica of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy's seminal kinetic sculpture, Light Prop for an Electric Stage (1930). Commonly known as the Light-Space Modulator, the original work has been in the Busch-Reisinger Museum's collection since 1956, and is currently on view in its galleries. Extensive changes in the original Light Prop's materials over the decades and continuing problems with its mechanical engineering mean that the original can no longer give an adequate impression of some of the artist's intentions. The full-sized and fully-functioning 2006 replica has been installed in a darkened gallery with spotlighting that creates a dramatic play of shadows, translucencies, transparencies, and reflections generated by the rotating machine's multiple surfaces. Moholy-Nagy's short experimental film Light Play: Black White Gray (1930) is also showing in the gallery. The artist used the Light Prop as the sole subject of this film's carefully choreographed sequence of close-ups, double exposures, and special effects.

László Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946) was one of the great pioneers of abstract and experimental art of the last century. He worked primarily in painting, photography, and graphic design. Born in Hungary, he was an enormously influential teacher at the Bauhaus in Germany during the Weimar Republic. Forced to leave Germany by the Nazis, he worked briefly in the Netherlands and in London, before settling in Chicago, where he founded the New Bauhaus, and subsequently, the Institute of Design.

Organized by Peter Nisbet, Daimler-Benz Curator of the Busch-Reisinger Museum.

Website Moholy-Nagy’s film, Light Play: Black White Gray, may be viewed in its entirety in the online exhibition Extra Ordinary Every Day: The Bauhaus at the Busch-Reisinger (www.artmuseums.harvard.edu/sites/eoed). Click on “Start Program,” click "Stage," then click on the image of the original Light Prop, which is the top-left object, and read through the commentary on the sculpture to view the film.

About HUAM The Harvard University Art Museums are one of the world’s leading arts institutions, comprising the Fogg Art Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Straus Center for Conservation, Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art, HUAM Archives, and the U.S. headquarters for the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis.

The Harvard University Art Museums are distinguished by the range and depth of their collections, their groundbreaking exhibitions, and the original research of their staff. As an integral part of the Harvard community, the three art museums and four research centers serve as resources for all students, adding a special dimension to their areas of study. The public is welcome to experience the collections and exhibitions as well as to enjoy lectures, symposia, and other programs.

For more than a century, the Harvard University Art Museums have been the nation’s premier training ground for museum professionals and scholars and are renowned for their role in the development of the discipline of art history in this country.

László Moholy-Nagy, Light Prop for an Electric Stage, 1929–30. Exhibition replica, constructed in 2006, through the courtesy of Hattula Moholy-Nagy. Metal, plastics, glass, paint, and wood, with electric motor, 151 x 70 x 70 cm. Busch-Reisinger Museum, Hildegard von Gontard Bequest Fund, 2007.105. Photo: Photographic Services © President and Fellows of Harvard College.

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