sábado, 6 de dezembro de 2014

Moholy-Nagy, Experiment in Totality by Walter Gropius

When I first saw the manuscript of this book I felt a certain apprehension which, I think, was quite natural for one who is about to see the life and work of his close friend revealed to the public; a friend, moreover, whose activities were so intense! connected with one of the most decisive periods of my own life. But soon I felt reassured as I became acquainted with this splendid and honest account of Moholy-Nagy's development from early experiments to full maturity. Moholy was always in the public eye, yet most people saw only the more obvious milestones of achievement which crystallize into "news stories." The other story, the intimate and often bitter story of one man's struggle for fulfillment, has been up to now the precious possession of his friends and collaborators, and of his wife, who was certainly the most devoted.


Looking back today, the difficult, contradictory and confusing years between the two World Wars, which form the background for the greater part of this book, seem to have provided a pitifully short time for a generation which approached its artistic endeavors with the zeal and enthusiasm released by the political change in Central Europe. But it was a period inspired by constructive ideas not as yet subjected to the blight of frustration which overshadows the world today. Those were the years of Moholy's and my collaboration in the Bauhaus of Weimar and Dessau, the development of which was deeply influenced by Moholy, the fiery stimulator.


After the Nazi nightmare had caused us both to leave Germany, we saw each other again in England, and later in the United States where I was fortunate enough to secure his leadership for The New Bauhaus in Chicago, subsequently renamed the Institute of Design. As the Bauhaus principles had never been based on limited nationalistic concepts, its seeds could be transplanted and further developed in this country. Against heavy odds which might havediscouraged a giant, Moholy managed to pull the Institute through difficult years, never losing his indomitable courage and confidence. And still he did not let himself become absorbed only in his educational work, extensive as it was, but simultaneously produced a wealth of art that embraces the whole range of the visual arts.


His greatest effort as an artist was devoted to the conquest of space. His genius ventured into all realms of science and art to unriddle the phenomena of space and light. In painting, sculpture and architecture, in theater and industrial design, in photography and film, advertising and typography, he incessantly strove to interpret space in its relation to time, that is, motion in space.


Constantly developing new ideas Moholy maintained an unbiased curiosity, from which originated his continually fresh point of view. With a shrewd sense of observation he investigated everything
that came his way, taking nothing for granted, always applying his acute sense of the organic. His was the attitude of an unprejudiced, happy child at play, surprising us by the directness of his intuitive approach. Here I believe was the source ofhis priceless quality as an educator: his never-ceasing power to stimulate and fire others with his enthusiasm. What more can true education achieve than setting the student's mind in motion by that contagious magic?

Moholy has been successful simultaneously as thinker and artist,,as writer and teacher. That would seem to be almost too vast a range for one man, but abundant versatility was uniquely his.With his power of imagination he kept this broad variety of interestsin balance. His vision took brilliant shortcuts, synchronizing: his observations into a consistent whole, for he was aware of the danger of today's overspecialization which so often leads to fallacies.


Moholy seems always to have been acutely conscious of the preciousness of time; he worked with dedicated zeal to realize his^ideas as though driven by the recognition that the destructive tendencies of our time could be changed into constructive forces!; only by a universal, superhuman effort. He had convinced himself of the generative power of all art and he wanted to see that powerj liberated in each individual with whom he came in contact. Ha had molded himself into a world citizen who would not let his ever-broadening outlook he narrowed by national barriers. Thus, Moholy the artist finally became a moral leader, all his activities being controlled by his strong social responsibility.

This book, Moholy-Nagy, Experiment in Totality, is evidence of a new attitude in the contemplation and formation of our physical world.

BY WALTER GROPIUS, chairman, department of architecture, Harvard University


In:  Moholy-Nagy, Experiment in Totality, by Sibyl Moholy-Nagy. New York, 1950, pp, 7-9.

 

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