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Light in Motion: The Influence of the New Bauhaus

October 23, 2019 at 6pm

Light in Motion: The Influence of the New Bauhaus brings together highly personal and experimental films made by Chicago-based artists who worked for design studios in the mid-1950s onward. Deeply influenced by the New Bauhaus movement which was led by the wildly creative designer and artist László Moholy-Nagy, the works in this program blend form, functionality, and utility. A daring approach to art and technology, the influence of this forward-thinking movement can be felt to this day in the seemingly disparate and multi-faceted realms of advertising and experimental filmmaking.

Night Driving (from the Goldsholl Collection)
1957, Color, Sound, 16mm, 8min 45 sec,

Mort and Millie Goldholl are arguably Moholy-Nagy’s most direct disciples in Chicago. In Night Driving, their first experimental film, the couple loaded their kids into the back of the family car and headed out for a trip downtown. Mort drove while Millie shot stunning footage of Chicago at night, resulting in a dreamy, playful film throughout which traffic lights suddenly seem to dance around with joy as a rollicking soundtrack featuring late-1950s pop songs buoys the vibrant imagery.

Dissent Illusion (from the Goldsholl Collection)
1963, B&W, Sound, 16mm, 11min 12 sec

Another experimental film made by the prolific husband and wife duo, Dissent Illusion foregrounds the physicality of the human form, set against an otherworldly modernist soundtrack performed by Philips Recording. Futuristic and almost space-age in feel, this film is a stunning interpretation of the New Bauhaus’ central tenets through the distinct stylistic prism of the 1960s.

Circles (from the Byron Grush Collection)
ca. 1965, B&W, Silent, 16mm, 8min 31 sec. Silent

Created during Grush’s studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the production of Circles was mentored by photography instructors Frank Barsotti and Ken Josephson, who inadvertently pushed for the film’s central visual motif. Grush focused on capturing circles in all forms as they appear in daily life, employing unique camera angles and an editing style that provides a subversive and humorous view of the world around him.

Licht Spiel Nur I (from the Robert Stiegler Collection)
ca. 1967, Silent, Color, 16mm,  2min, 58 sec. Silent

One of Stiegler’s short silent pieces, the abstractions depicted in Licht Spiel Nur I presents filmic frames time-exposed in order to poetically reveal the different qualities of light. Stiegler noted that his editing style was meant to mimic the baroque musicality of a Bach fugue, while also playing with real and synthesized color.

Flesh Colored Crayons (from the Byron Grush Collection)
ca. 1992, Sound, Color, 16mm, 4min, 3 sec

Completed in 1992, Flesh Colored Crayons highlights the distinct aesthetic qualities of animation within the specific moody montage structure of a more personal, experimental work. Sporadic, sly phrases pop-up throughout such as “you can’t dance naked in Indiana” splayed across a Christ-like figure drawn on a rocket ship, which quickly cuts to other simultaneously poignant, funny, and thought-provoking images.

Life and Film (from the Larry Janiak Collection)
ca. 1965, Sound, B&W, 16mm, 4min 10 sec

A beautiful short film by Larry Janiak, Life and Film was an attempt to recreate a “picture postcard” in filmic form, providing a lyrical look at fellow Chicago-based artists such as Robert Stiegler on their way to shoot a movie in sand dunes on a clear, sunny day in Michigan during the mid-60s.


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