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School of Design

A work made of gelatin silver print.

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  • A work made of gelatin silver print.




Nathan Lerner
American, 1913–1997

About this artwork

A lifelong Chicagoan, Nathan Lerner was among the 33 students in the 1937 inaugural class at the New Bauhaus (re-formed as the School of Design in 1939, and the Institute of Design in 1944). He returned to the school in 1945 to head its Product Design Workshop and serve as its first dean of faculty. Lerner was known for his artistic experiments with light and reflections, which led him to invent a so-called light box that allowed him to create controlled, abstract studies of objects. This image of a School of Design catalogue is an example of photographic exercises guided by László Moholy-Nagy’s article “Eight Varieties of Photographic Vision” (published in multiple versions starting in the 1920s), which listed “distorted seeing” as a photographic tool for exploring subjects. Moholy-Nagy defined this term as “optical jokes that can be automatically produced by exposure through a lens fitted with prisms.”


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Photography and Media


Nathan Lerner


School of Design


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1940


Gelatin silver print


Image/paper: 13.4 × 10.6 cm (5 5/16 × 4 3/16 in.); Mount: 23 × 35.8 cm (9 1/16 × 14 1/8 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Kiyoko Lerner

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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