László Moholy-Nagy was known as an artist and designer, but director Alysa Nahmias uncovers the Hungarian painter’s influence as an educator in her documentary The New Bauhaus.
After just five years at the Weimar art school – where Moholy-Nagy’s lack of official art education and unconventional teaching style raised eyebrows – the Hungarian artist spent almost a decade focused his own practice before rebooting the Bauhaus in the US.
His first attempt, the New Bauhaus in Chicago, was a failure, but in 1939 Moholy-Nagy successfully opened the School of Design in the city. Guided by the artist, it adopted a radically different approach to creative education – not bothering with a challenging admissions process, encouraging students to study a wide range of subjects, and participate in hands-on exercises and workshops.
Nahmias’ film, The New Bauhaus is available on several streaming services, including AppleTV and Vimeo OnDemand. It explores the enduring influence of Moholy-Nagy’s approach to education, which has, perhaps, become lost in the mythos of the original Bauhaus and its members.
The documentary features talking heads from former students and curators from the art and design world, discussing the surprising influence of the school. It has, they argue, resonated throughout the design history of recent decades.