- Gallery Text
One of the earliest electrically powered kinetic sculptures, Light Prop for an Electric Stage holds a central place in the history of modern sculpture. Representing the culmination of Moholy-Nagy’s experimentation at the Bauhaus, it incorporates his interest in technology, new materials, and, above all, light. Moholy sought to revolutionize human perception and thereby enable society to better apprehend the modern technological world. He presented Light Prop at a 1930 exhibition of German design as a mechanism for generating “special lighting and motion effects” on a stage. The rotating construction produces a startling array of visual effects when its moving and reflective surfaces interact with the beam of light. The sculpture became the subject of numerous photographs as well as Moholy’s abstract film Lightplay: Black, White, Gray (1930). Over the years the artist and later the museums made alterations to the sculpture to keep it in working order. It is still operational today.
- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
László Moholy-Nagy, Hungarian (Bacsborsod, Hungary 1895 - 1946 Chicago, Ill., USA)
- Light Prop for an Electric Stage (Light-Space Modulator)
- Other Titles
- Original Language Title: Lichtrequisit einer elektrischen Bühne
- Work Type
Level 1, Room 1520, Modern and Contemporary Art, Art in Germany Between the Wars
View this object's location on our interactive map
- Physical Descriptions
- aluminum, steel, nickel-plated brass, other metals, plastic, wood and electric motor
- 151.1 x 69.9 x 69.9 cm (59 1/2 x 27 1/2 x 27 1/2 in.)
- Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, gift; to Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1956.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of Sibyl Moholy-Nagy
- © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- Modern and Contemporary Art
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- Publication History
Charles Werner Haxthausen, "The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard: the Germanic Tradition", Apollo (May 1978), vol. 107, no. 195, pp. 403-413, p. 410, repr. p. 410 as fig. 7
Charles Werner Haxthausen, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University, Abbeville Press (New York, NY, 1980), pp. 12, 61, repr. pp. 60-63
Kristin A. Mortimer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY, 1985), no. 357, p. 301, repr.
Peter Nisbet and Emilie Norris, Busch-Reisinger Museum: History and Holdings, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1991), p. 67, ill.
Robert Atkins, Artspoke: A guide to Modern Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords, 1848-1944, Abbeville Press (New York, 1993), p. 69, b/w
James Cuno, Harvard's Art Museums: 100 Years of Collecting, Harvard University Art Museums/Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, 1996), pp. 344-345, repr. color
Seiyo Bijutsukan [The History of Western Art], Shogakukan Inc. (Tokyo, Japan, 1999), p. 1039, repr. in color
Gary Garrels, ed., Celebrating Modern Art: The Anderson Collection, exh. cat., San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA, 2000), fig. 62, b/w illus.
Peter Nisbet and Joseph Koerner, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, ed. Peter Nisbet, Harvard University Art Museums and Scala Publishers Ltd. (Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2007), p. 119
Peter Galison, Gerald Holton, and Silvan Schweber, ed., Einstein for the 21st Century, Princeton University Press (Princeton, New Jersey, 2008), pp. 112, 114, fig. 8.7, ill.
Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 2008), p. 207, ill.
Leah Dickerman and Barry Bergdoll, Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity, exh. cat., ed. David Frankel, Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York, 2009), cat. no. 374, p. 275, color repr.
Philip F. Palmedo, Lin Emery, Hudson Hills Press (Manchester, VT and New York, 2012), p. 124-125, fig. 7.2, ill.
Linda Henderson, The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2013), p. 35, ill. (black and white)
Matthew S. Witkovsky, Carol Eliel, and Carol Vail, ed., Moholy-Nagy: Future Present, exh. cat., The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, 2016), p. 190
- Exhibition History
19th- and 20th-Century Paintings and Sculpture from the Museum's Collection, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 06/11/1980 - 08/31/1980
Re-View: S118 European & American Art since 1900, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 09/13/2008 - 04/09/2011
Re-View: European and American Art Since 1900, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 05/03/2011 - 06/01/2013
32Q: 1520 Art in Germany Between the Wars (Interwar and Bauhaus), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014
- Subjects and Contexts
This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at firstname.lastname@example.org