László Moholy-Nagy was a Hungarian contributor to the International Style in Europe between the wars. The Bauhaus, an experimental art school in Germany, counted him among its star faculty. When the Nazis closed the school in 1933, Moholy-Nagy fled to Holland, then to England, and finally settled in Chicago, where he founded an American version of the Bauhaus.
The 1940s innovative, war-driven technology and early notions about the conquest of space gave the undaunted immigrant artist a final boost of creative energy before leukemia ended his brilliant career. The plastic developed for airplane windshields and gun turrets provided Moholy-Nagy with the ideal material to mold, pierce, and engrave. The motif in Space Modulator derived from photographs the artist shot of the street below through the ornate railing of his balcony. The result, with its curvilinear shapes, parallel and crossing lines, and airy perforations, was abstract in a futuristic way.
Artist László Moholy-Nagy, American, 1895 - 1946
Title
  • Space Modulator, Red over Black
Date 1946
Medium Oil on plastic
Dimensions Overall: 18 1/8 × 25 1/2 inches (46 × 64.8 cm)
Credit Line Gift of W. Hawkins Ferry
Accession Number 48.3
Department European Modern Art to 1950
Not On View
1948–present, gift to Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Harriman, Virginia. "Red over Black." Bulletin of the DIA 29, no. 1 (1949-1950): pp. 11-12 (ill.).

The W. Hawkins Ferry Collection. Exh. cat., DIA. Detroit, 1966, unpaginated, no. 35 (ill.).

Moholy-Nagy, Laszlo. Exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Chicago, 1969, pp. 43 (ill.), 59, no. 65.

Rattner, Ruth. "Projecting the Fourth Dimension: Two Constructions by Lázló Moholy-Nagy." Bulletin of the DIA 61, no. 4 (1984): pp. 4-13, pp. 5, 7 (ill.), 9, 12.

Duvernois, Isabelle. "Moholy-Nagy’s 'Vision in Motion' Stilled: A Study of Wire Mesh Plastic Laminate Deterioration." In Anagpic Student Conference Papers. Ottawa, 2003, pp. 20-21.