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AL 3, 1926

László Moholy-Nagy

American, 1895-1946
Oil, industrial paints, and pencil on aluminum
15-3/4 x 15-3/4 in. (40 x 40 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, The Blue Four Galka Scheyer Collection
© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn Reproduction, including downloading of ARS works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Not on view

While stationed in Vienna during World War I, László Moholy-Nagy discovered the constructivism of Kasimir Malevich, El Lissitzky and Naum Gabo. Soon after, the Hungarian moved to Germany and began teaching at the Bauhaus, the highly influential German school that focused on design and industrial
integration. There he became the head of the metal workshop and experimented with such materials as aluminum, chrome, nickel, glass and plastic. Incorporating the aesthetic leanings of the school, Moholy-Nagy limited the content of the students’ work to geometric shapes that could be created using only a ruler and a compass. In AL 3, so named because it was the artist’s third painting on aluminum, Moholy-Nagy sprayed paint using an air brush. This new technique eliminated nearly all signs of the artist’s hand, leaving only the velvety dispersion of color. Unfortunately, these early experimentations often proved detrimental to the work. For this painting, however, the fading of the central circle from blue to rust had an unexpected effect. Little more than a decade after the painting was completed, the artist remarked of this change, “I must confess that I like the picture much better as it is now.”

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