About This Artwork

László Moholy-Nagy
American, born Hungary, 1895–1946

Berlin Radio Tower, 1928

Gelatin silver print
36 x 25.5 cm (image/paper)
Unmarked recto; inscribed verso, in ink: "Photograph by Moholy-Nagy"; stamped verso, upper left, in purple ink: "moholy-nagy / berlin - chbg. 9 / fredericiastr. 27 atelier"; [plus 2 Julien Levy stamps]

Julien Levy Collection, Special Photography Acquisition Fund, 1979.84

© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Over the winter and spring of 1927–28, Bauhaus professor László Moholy-Nagy took a series of perhaps nine views looking down from the Berlin Radio Tower, one of the most exciting new constructions in the German capital. Moholy had already photographed the Eiffel Tower in Paris, looking up through the tower’s soaring girders. In Berlin, however, Moholy turned his camera around and pointed it straight down at the ground. This plunging perspective showed off the spectacular narrowness of the Radio Tower, finished in 1926, which rose vertiginously to a height of 450 feet from a base seven times smaller than that of its Parisian predecessor (which opened in 1889). Moholy attached exceptional importance to this, his boldest image: he hung it just above his name in a room devoted to his work at the Berlin showing of Film and Foto, a mammoth traveling exhibition that he had helped to prepare. Moholy also chose this view and one other to offer Julien Levy, the pioneering art dealer, when Levy visited him in Berlin in 1930. The following year the pictures went on view at the Levy Gallery in New York, in Moholy’s first solo exhibition of photographs.

— Entry, Essential Guide, 2013, p.291.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, “Photographs from the Julien Levy Collection: Starting with Atget,” December 11, 1976–February 20, 1977; traveled to the International Center of Photography, New York, April 21-May 29, 1977; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, November 4-December 18 1977; Fogg Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, January 13-Ferbruary 26, 1978; Lakeview Center for the Arts and Sciences, Peoria, Illinois, March 16-April 30, 1978; and Cincinnati Art Museum, November 17-December 24, 1978. (David Travis)

Wellesley, Massachusetts, Wellesley College Museum, "Moholy-Nagy, Photography and Film in Weimar Germany," April 10–June 10, 1985; traveled to Houston, Texas, The Museum of Fine Arts, November 2, 1985–January 5, 1986; Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, January 31–April 13, 1986.

University of Texas at Austin, Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery, "Photographers of the Weimar Republic," October 2–November 16, 1986; traveled to State University of New York at Purchase, Neuberger Museum, January 25–March 29, 1987.

Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art, “On the Art of Fixing a Shadow: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Photography,” May 7–July 30, 1989; traveled to The Art Institute of Chicago, September 16–November 26, 1989; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, December 21, 1989–February 25, 1990.

Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, "Industrial Effects: Twentieth Century Photographs from the Permanent Collection," July 24-October 17, 1993.

Berlin, Germany, Berlinische Galerie, "Moskau-Berlin/Berlin-Moscow, 1900–1950," September 3, 1995–January 7, 1996; traveled to Moscow, Russia, Pushkin State Museum, March 1–July 1, 1996.

Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, December 1998-February 1999.

Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, "Photography on Display: Modern Treasures," May 9–September 13, 2009.

Sydney, Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, "The Mad Square: Modernity in German Art, 1910–1938," August 5–September 2011; traveled to the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, November 17, 2011–February 12, 2012. (Jacqueline Strecker)

New York, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, "Moholy_Nagy: Future Present," May 25-September 7, 2016; traveled to Art Institute of Chicago, October 2, 2016-January 3, 2017; and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, February 8-June 18, 2017.

Publication History

Hight, Eleanor M. 1985. "Moholy-Nagy: Photography and Film in Weimar Germany." Exh. cat. Wellesley College Museum. p. 76. fig. 37.

Greenough, Sarah, Joel Snyder, David Travis and Colin Westerbeck. 1989. “On the Art of Fixing a Shadow: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Photography.” Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art/The Art Institute of Chicago. p. 275, cat. 213.

Hight, Eleanor M. 1995. "Picturing Modernism: Moholy-Nagy and Photography in Weimar germany." Massachusetts Institute of Technology. p.123, fig. 60

Wood, James N. 2000. "Treasures from The Art Institute of Chicago." Hudson Hills Press, Inc. p. 271.

Varnedoe, Kirk. 2006. "Pictures of Nothing: Abstract Art Since Pollock." Princeton University Press. p. 102.

Druick, Douglas and Robert V. Sharp. 2013. "The Art Institute of Chicago: The Essential Guide." Art Institute of Chicago. p. 291.

Interpretive Resources

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