László Moholy-Nagy was born in southern Hungary in 1895. After unfinished law studies and military service during the First World War, he attended an evening art school, which marked the beginning of his career as an artist. During his first artistic years his style of art was much influenced and shifted from the figurative to a short Dadaist phase before it became completely abstract. His earlier paintings, which were strongly influenced by Russian Constructivism, already illustrate his life-long preoccupation with light and transparency. Around 1922 Moholy-Nagy became aware of the photogram and the artistic potential of the motion picture, which fascinated him for the rest of his life. When he moved to Berlin two years later, he met Walter Gropius, director of the Bauhaus, who visited Moholy-Nagy’s exhibition at the avant-garde art gallery Der Sturm. He appointed Moholy-Nagy as a teacher at the art school in Weimar in March 1923. The artist remained loyal to the Bauhaus even after its move to Dessau, before he finally left it in 1928.
After Hitler seized power in 1933 it became more and more difficult for Moholy-Nagy and many other avant-garde artists to work in Germany. In 1934, one year after his participation in the 4th CIAM Congress in Athens, he accepted a job offer from a design company in Amsterdam and moved to Holland. In 1937 Moholy-Nagy opened “the new bauhaus: American School of Design” in Chicago, which already had to be closed after one year due to financial difficulties. In February of 1939 he was able to open a successor institute, which he called “The School of Design in Chicago,” today known as “IIT Institute of Design.”
In December of 1945, Moholy-Nagy was diagnosed with leukemia and died on 24 November 1946 at the premature age of 51.