In the late 1920s and early 30s Laszlo Moholy-Nagy had achieved what few artists ever do, a near celebrity status in Weimar Germany. Oddly, until 1936, there was no comprehensive publication devoted entirely to his own work and ideas until a Monrovian architect and film enthusiast named Frantisek Kalivoda devoted the inaugural issue of his newly founded magazine Telehor to Moholy-Nagy. The publisher Lars Muller has just released a new facsimile edition of Telehor, the first major publication of one of the world’s most important visual artists and thinkers.
Frantisek Kalivoda’s initial conception was the magazine would be a vehicle to promote the work of individual figures of the international avant-garde who engaged with new media and whom he saw as serving the larger goal of transforming society. The first issue was supposed to feature work by both Moholy-Nagy and Hannah Hoch but finally dedicated it to Moholy-Nagy alone.
The contents of Telehor, three main articles, reinforce and in some cases revise the arguments he made in his first Bauhaus book from 1925 Malerei, Photographie, Film. Illustrated with works by many other artists and only a handful by Moholy-Nagy himself, Malerei, Photographie, Film observed that optical art was concerned with light as its rawest material and there was “an arc of possibilities from painting through to photography and cinema to an art of pure light that could be taken advantage of by any artist.” In addition Telehor includes a film script called “once a chicken, always a chicken” inspired partly by a Kurt Schwitters motif and the Surrealist character of the Czech avant-garde.
Even though Moholy-Nagy was giving extensive input through out the entire process of creating Telehor, the responsibility for design fell mainly to Frantisek Kalivoda. Besides the obvious content, the form of the nagazine was cutting edge for its time; the use of sans-serif typography; doing away with capitalizing any letters; employing a spiral binding; and adding a thin translucent film of protective paper over the cover (most of these delicate sheets have disappeared from their copies over the years).
Interestingly, Moholy-Nagy asked if 300 copies could be produced with a variant cover of a solid black field with only his name appearing in white script. This black variant was likely in Moholy-Nagy’s mind to serve as an anthology of his works since there had previously been no such publication.
Lars Muller has published many fine facsimile editions of avant-garde publications in the past including boxed reprints of El Lissizky and Ilya Ehrenburg’s magazine Vesc’: Objet Gegenstand (Lars Muller, 1994); ABC: Contributions on Building – a magazine from the 1920s edited by Hans Schmidt, Mart Stam, El Lissitzky and Emil Roth (Lars Muller, 2001); and boxed works by the designer Max Burchartz and the architect Hannes Meyer.
This facsimile of Telehor comes with an additional eighty page book of additional commentary edited by Klemens Gruber and Oliver Botár and accompanied with translations in German, English, French, Czech, Mandarin, Russian, Hungarian and Spanish.
Lars Muller Publishers
21 x 29.7 cm