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Gelatin silver print
23.9 x 17.9 cm (9 7/16 x 7 1/16 in.)
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987, Accession Number: 1987.1100.158
Curatorial description (18 June 2016)
Moholy-Nagy played a key role at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau as a painter, graphic artist, teacher, and impassioned advocate of avant-garde photography. He made this image without a camera by placing ordinary objects, including his hand and a paintbrush, on a sheet of photosensitized paper and exposing it to light. While this simple process was practiced by photography's founders in the nineteenth century and was later popularized as a child's amusement, avant-garde artists in the twentieth century revived the photogram technique as a means for exploring the optical and expressive properties of light. With this shadow-image of a hand and paintbrush, Moholy-Nagy ambitiously suggests that photography may incorporate, and even transcend, painting as the most vital medium of artistic expression in the modern age.