Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale


László Moholy-Nagy
1895 - 1946
signed Moholy-Nagy (lower right)
oil and pencil on canvas
66 by 51cm.
26 by 20in.
Painted in 1921.
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The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by Hattula Moholy-Nagy.


Dr Hermann Bode, Steinhude, Germany
Sale: Hauswedell & Nolte, Hamburg, 10th June 1988, lot 866
Purchased at the above sale by the late owner


Berlin, Galerie der Sturm, Moholy-Nagy / Peri, 1922, no. 1
Hanover, Provinzialmuseum, Kabinett der Abstrakten, 1926-28
Hanover, Niedersächsische Landesgalerie (on loan after 1950)
Hanover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Zeitgenössische Kunst aus hannoverschem Privatbesitz, 1954, no. 117
Hanover, Kunstverein, Die zwanziger Jahre in Hannover, 1962, no. J.3, illustrated in the catalogue
Hanover, Kunstverein, Die Pelikan-Kunstsammlung aus dem Besitz des Hauses Günther Wagner, Hannover, Pelikan-Werke und der Familie Beindorff, 1963, no. 87, illustrated in the catalogue
Hanover, Sprengel Museum (on loan from 1979)
Hanover, Sprengel Museum, Malerei und Plastik des 20. Jahrhunderts, 1985, no. 388, illustrated in the catalogue
Hanover, Sprengel Museum, Die abstrakten Hannover - Internationale Avantgarde 1927-1935, 1987


Ludwig Schreiner, Die Gemälde des Neunzehnten und Zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts in der Niedersächsischen Landesgalerie, Hannover, Munich, 1973, no. 720, p. 339
Bernd Rau (ed.), Kunstmuseum Hannover mit Sammlung Sprengel, Hanover, 1979, no. 547, p. 260
Krisztina Passuth, Moholy-Nagy, Paris, 1984, no. 35, illustrated in colour p. 109 (incorrectly catalogued as belonging to Kunstmuseum, Hanover)

Catalogue Note

The present work by Moholy-Nagy was exhibited at Herwarth Walden’s legendary Galerie Der Sturm in Berlin in 1922, and it was shortly after this that Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus, asked him to join the academy. Painted in 1921, E-Bild displays the artist’s characteristic innovative boldness, establishing a wonderful dialogue between the black L-shaped bar, the red and yellow vertical bars and the letter E placed on top of the composition. Moholy-Nagy firmly believed that the art of the present must parallel contemporary reality in order to communicate meaning to its public, surrounded by new technological advancements. He therefore considered traditional, figurative painting obsolete and turned to pure geometric abstraction filtered through the stylistic influence of Russian Constructivists such as Malevich and El Lissitzky.

El Lissitzky was charged with organising Kabinett der Abstrakten, a long-term exhibition that took place at the Provinzialmuseum in Hannover from atumn 1926 until February 1928. The present work took pride of place alongside masterpieces of Contructivism and avant-gard abstract paintings and sculptures by artists including Mondrian, Léger, Archipenko and Schwitters. This seminal exhibition was reconstructed in 1987 by the Sprengel Museum (fig. 5).

Moholy-Nagy’s vision of a non-representational art, consisting of pure visual elements of colour, texture and balance of forms, was a constant throughout his career. He attempted to define an objective science of essential forms, colours, and materials, which would promote a more unified social environment. In his book Vision in Motion he sought to explain his underlying beliefs in the function of art: ‘Art is the most complex, vitalising and civilising of human actions. Thus it is of biological necessity. Art sensitizes man to the best that is imminent in him through an intensified expression involving many layers of experience. Out of them art forms a unified manifestation, like dreams which are composed of the most diverse source material subconsciously crystallized. It tries to produce a balance of the social, intellectual and emotional existence; a synthesis of attitudes and opinions, fears and hope’ (L. Moholy-Nagy, Vision in Motion, Chicago, 1947, p. 28).

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale