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Leigh Hatts

Albers and Moholy-Nagy: From the Bauhaus to the New World

This the first exhibition at Tate Modern dedicated to early Modernist abstraction. There are more than 200 works in a diverse range of media including painting, sculpture, photography, film and furniture design.

Albers and Moholy-Nagy: From the Bauhaus to the New World examines the work of German-born Josef Albers (1888-1976) and Hungarian-born László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946) who pioneered Modernism in the 20th century.

The paths of Albers and László Moholy-Nagy only overlapped for five years, between 1923 and 1928 when both were teaching at the Bauhaus but both were exiled to the USA by the Nazi threat. This exhibition shows work from the end of the First World War to the 1970s but the contents of each room are not immediately easy to date.

Stacking tables
Josef Albers: Set of Four Stacking Tables, c. 1927; Ash veneer, black lacquer, and painted glass; The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation; The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/ VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn and DACS, London 2006.
Photographic credit: Tim Nighswander

The visitor is welcomed at the entrance by Albers' Rhenish Legend 1921, a stained glass window incorprating the bottom of coloured bottles. In the next room, his 1928 armchair and 1927 coloured stacking tables are fifty years ahead of their time.

Nearby from the same period are Moholy-Nagy's letterheads which look so modern that one expects to see an email address included.


LT poster
László Moholy-Nagy: Poster for London Transport Museum: Quickly Away, Thanks to Pneumatic Doors 1937, Colour lithograph, 101.3 x 63.3 cm
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2006 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/DACS

His work for Britain comes as a surprise. There are two London Transport posters promoting escalators and the tube's pneumatic doors. Moholy-Nagy's photography is seen in the book An Oxford Chest by John Betjeman.

Albers' Christmas cards would not look out of place today. One for 1938 is lent by the family of the late Harry Blacker, the cartoonist and art critic, who would have loved this show.

• Albers and Moholy-Nagy is at Tate Modern daily until Sunday 4 June; admission 7 (conc 5.50).
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