Documentary film “The New Bauhaus” celebrates the legacy of Versatile interdisciplinary artist László Moholy-Nagyo, perhaps best known for his photography and photograms, and the school legacy he started in Chicago. The film, directed by Alyssa Nahmias, makes the case that although Moholy-Nagy’s body of work may seem as sprawling as it spread across mediums, he deserves to be remembered as one of the great artists of the 20th century. — as important as Picasso or Magritte, says Elizabeth Siegel, photography curator at the Art Institute of Chicago.
The film argues that Moholy-Nagy was more concerned with the approach than the product; For example, he learned biology from his students, trying to give them new ways of looking at the world. He did not separate artistic pursuits from commercial interests or economic realities. The film describes how he turned metal rationing during World War II into an opportunity to rethink products. As noted here, his influence, and the work of his students, can be seen in advertising, credits to James Bond films, and in the shape of a Dove soap bar.
The film has informative commentary from academics and especially Moholi-Nagi’s daughter Hattula. A former student, Beatrice Takeuchi, says that she found an exhibition on Moholy-Nagy too formal—that she was flirting with her best. In a sense, she is referring to the film, which shares the biography of the artist in a traditional way. But it is a good primer, well illustrated.