PRINT September 1971

The Films of Man Ray and Moholy-Nagy

THE FILMS OF THE HUNGARIAN Constructivist Moholy-Nagy and the American Dadaist Man Ray have special relevance as historical precedents for current cinematic activity on the part of painters and sculptors. Their films were a response to certain contradictions inherent in the very aims and ideologies of the modern movements themselves, and thus provide a locus for studying a crisis, within the plastic arts, which reasserts itself today.

Conceived during the period between the two world wars of the détente from Cubism, the films of Man Ray and Moholy-Nagy attempted to formulate an alternative to painting at a time when painting had lost much of its innovational impetus. This period of relaxation after the extraordinary decade of experimentation that closed with World War I called forth doubts regarding not only “progress” in abstract art, but also doubts regarding the function of painting and

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