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Current Exhibitions

László (or Ladislaus) Moholy-Nagy, Composition, n.d. (ca. 1922-23). Paper collage on paper. SBMA, Gift of Mrs. Charlotte Mack.
The Paintings of Moholy-Nagy: The Shape of Things to Come

Through September 27, 2015

This represents the first exhibition that explores how the practice of painting served as the means for László Moholy-Nagy to imagine generative relationships between art and technology. Featuring a suite of paintings executed on traditional supports, as well as on new industrial materials like plastics and aluminum, this presentation highlights how Moholy’s deployment of painting served to synthesize the inter-medial practice for which the artist has become so renowned. Organized chronologically and thematically, this exhibition shows the evolution of Moholy’s thought and practice over his career but attends especially to the profound political and technological impact World War II had on him.

It is undeniable that Moholy made numerous declarations about the end of painting especially at the end of the 1920s. He demanded that artistic production reach beyond the confines of the walls of a bourgeois salon, museum or gallery. He advised artists to exchange brush, pigment, and canvas with camera, television, and searchlight. However, even as he made these radical claims, Moholy returned time and again to painting. In the early ‘20s, he painted a number of works against black grounds, some on highly-polished black wood panels, others on canvas, thickly varnished to mimic the qualities of industrial plastics he began working with at the Bauhaus in the metal workshop. He also experimented with materials developed specifically for aeronautics, with aluminum and later with clear, lightweight, increasingly shatterproof thermoplastics in the thirties and forties. These works in plastic stand at the interstices of his many artistic practices, mobilizing techniques and organizing principles drawn from printmaking, film, photography, sculpture, and crucially painting.

The exhibition was made possible through the generous support of the Tom and Charlene Marsh Family Foundation, Cecille Pulitzer, SBMA Women’s Board, an anonymous donor, Marcia and John Mike Cohen, Dead Artists Society, Susan Bowey, Gregg Wilson and John Maienza, The David Bermant Foundation, and The Moholy-Nagy Foundation. View the full press release here.

Herbert Bayer, Humanly Impossible (Self Portrait), 1932. Gelatin silver print, ed. 30/40. SBMA, Museum purchase with funds provided by the Chalifoux Fund, Auction! Auction!, courtesy of Margaret Mallory. ©Herbert Bayer Estate, Courtesy of Peyton Wright Gallery

The Visionary Photomontages of Herbert Bayer, 

The Visionary Photomontages of Herbert Bayer, 1929-1936, a selection of twelve photographs by Bauhaus artist Herbert Bayer (1900–1985), will be exhibited in tandem with the international loan exhibition The Paintings of Moholy-Nagy: The Shape of Things to Come. Influenced by the photographic works of László Moholy-Nagy and the modernist Bauhaus credo―there is no one true art form but rather an intersection of all art in pursuit of an idea, Bayer’s work as a photographer reflects his mastery of graphic design. Made in Berlin as Weimar culture faded and Hitler rose to power, the exhibited photomontages grapple with the tumultuous modern world as the artist experienced it between the years 1929 and 1936. A testament to Bayer’s wit and life experiences, these dreamlike photomontages harness the clinical detachment of the Bauhaus to create disturbing images that unveil primal scenes of forbidden desire and the dilemmas posed by individual but also national identity. In his abstract, often playful rearrangement of photographic fragments, Bayer reanimates fantasies from memory, history, nature, and Germanic identity.

Natori SHUNSEN, Ichikawa Sadanji II as Narukami Uejin from the series “Portraits of Actors”, ca. 1926. Color woodblock print. SBMA, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Roland A. Way.

  Visions of Modernity: 20th-Century Japanese Woodblock Prints

Visions of Modernity, presented in a series of rotations, explores the creative process of printmaking in the first half of the 20th century in Japan, a period when artists of all disciplines explored new forms of expression as the nation sought to modernize by embracing new ideas and technologies from the West. This rapid adaptation, encouraged by the Japanese government since the Meiji Restoration (1868–1912), led artists in the early 20th century to react with a new sense of individualism and an urgency to express the political, social, economic, and cultural changes in their work. Printmakers, like other visual artists, learned Western artistic conventions such as linear perspective, photographic realism, and the techniques of lithography and etching, which fueled two parallel printmaking movements—Shin-hanga (new prints) and Sōsakuhanga (creative prints).


Edgar Degas, Three Dancers in Yellow Skirts, ca. 1891. Oil on canvas. Michael Armand Hammer and the Armand Hammer Foundation.
  Degas to Chagall: Important Loans from The Armand Hammer Foundation

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is delighted to present a selection of important paintings that are on extended loan by The Armand Hammer Foundation. The mandate of the Foundation is to share an extraordinary collection of works bequeathed by its founder with the public by lending to museums throughout the country.

The paintings on view from The Armand Hammer Foundation represent just a small fraction of the ravishing collection put together by Dr. Armand Hammer (1898-1990), perhaps best known for the extraordinary works of art he donated to his namesake institution, the Hammer Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles, from 1965 through 1990. These works complement seamlessly our Museum's rich holdings in the areas of French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Artists represented include Pierre Bonnard, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Marc Chagall, Edgar Degas, Henri Fantin-Latour, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, and Auguste Renoir.

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