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How did Moholy-Nagy make photography made manifestly modern?

A typical Laszlo Moholy-Nagy photograph might feature hard diagonals or contrasting geometric shapes,
often under harsh lighting that cast dramatic shadows within the photo. Moholy is known for using many
radical techniques within his arts, which venture from constructivism to modernism to surrealism. In his
time, he faced much opposition because of this; however, not only did he continue developing his methods,
he is viewed as one of the foremost advocates of modernism in the twentieth century. His greatest
influence in photography may not have been his work or struggles, but his time spent spreading his
principles as a teacher later in his life.
Although, Moholy started his artwork with a brief period of militarism, he quickly discovered his own
style. He ignored lines of distinction between photographic and graphic expression. He ignored the
traditional dependence of photography on the forms of painting. He ignored the role and purpose of
photography as seen by the masses. Moholy understood a camera to be a modern graphic tool that allowed
him to capture and convey different aspects of reality to his viewers. He tried to give his viewers a
different perspective of casual subjects by photographing them from different viewpoints, such as bird's-eye
and worm's-eye views. He also framed his photos in a non-traditional style. He often used diagonal
composition to give a photo a different focus or to point out a certain aspect of the photo that may have
otherwise been overlooked by his viewers. He often utilized foreground and background effects, placing
objects in places that they were not typically placed. He found this was another effective method of
drawing attention to a certain point in a photo. Because Moholy sought to show society as it was
aesthetically, he utilized these radical compositions to convey the messages that were also considered
Moholy's endeavors are very reflective of his ideals and the aesthetic quality is evident in most all of his
photos. He didn't have the political incentive that many artist of this time did. He believed that, because art
is rooted in society, an artist has an obligation to address social issues; he is a visionary for the society and
he provides forms that convey ideas necessary for social advance and reform. As he aged, he viewed art on
increasingly social and revolutionary terms. This is can be seen by comparing his later work to his first
works. The subject matter in his early work in militarism may be considered traditional and not
controversial for the time; however, most of his later work was focused on what was considered modern
subjects. For example, he took a positive view of technology, photographing much "machine aesthetic" and
abstract photos of the industrial age. He liked technology as a subject because it directly represented the
social change in society that came with industrialization. The camera itself was also associated with
technology because it was becoming more mechanical and technologically advanced. Technology was
making photography faster and more practical. What better subject to photograph, than the industry that
was rapidly improving the very quality of that photograph.
Moholy is also famous for his combination of photographical techniques. He spent a lot of time on the
subject of lighting, even writing on this subject. He referred to the forms produced by light as "abstract
seeing." Harsh lighting and shadows, double exposures, under and over exposures, photograms, variation
of exposure times (producing rapid or slow seeing) and contrast are all prominent in his experiments with
lighting. He advocated photomontage (which he never referred to as collages) as a way of "simultaneous
seeing," which he often used to convey social messages. He achieved "intensified seeing" by means of
filter variation, such as using infrared film. Depending on the filter and technique, if the photo was
substantially changed, he called it "distorted seeing." Moholy also viewed radiography (x-rays) as a
creative form of photography, which he actually utilized. All of Moholy's definitions of seeing can be
looked up in his text, A New Instrument of Vision (1932), under the light varieties of photographic vision.
Moholy was Hungarian but with the upset and war in Europe, he was first forced through a series of moves
and eventually landed in Chicago. His work was well known in the US because his publications in Cahier
d'Arts, his displays at exhibitions in New York and his writings. Many of his photos catered to American
ideals because America was an industrializing nation, looking to its future. He started the New Bauhaus,
an experimental school of art and design in Chicago. After it failed, he took a teaching position at the
Chicago Institute of Design, where he pushed the idea of improving the modern world by designing
beautiful functional objects. This idea is manifest in many American products today.
As an artist, theorist and teacher, Moholy influenced the world of photography from its bulky, slow
beginning to the fast, practical mobility of today's everyday camera. He kept style and technique up to
speed with the technological advancement. His experimentation with light lead to the development of
techniques that are now considered advanced and professional methods in photography. His modernist
ideals spread into the modern day and are obviously manifest in today's American industrial design and
commercial advertisement. Although, it is still questioned as to whether or not photography is a true form
of art, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy is in part responsible for it being a modern form of art.