Sibyl Moholy-Nagy

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Portrait of Sibyl Moholy-Nagy by Frank Levstik.
Born October 29, 1903(1903-10-29)
Dresden, German Reich (today Germany)
Died January 8, 1971(1971-01-08) (aged 67)
New York City, United States

Sibyl Moholy-Nagy (born Dorothea Maria Pauline Alice Sybille Pietzsche, 29 October 1903 – 8 January 1971) was an architectural and art historian. Originally a German citizen, she accompanied her second husband, the Hungarian Bauhaus artist László Moholy-Nagy, in his move to the United States. She was the author of a study of his work, Moholy-Nagy: Experiment in Totality, plus several other books on architectural history.

She was an outspoken critic of what she regarded as the excesses of postwar modernist architecture. After her death in 1971, fellow writer Reyner Banham eulogized her as "the most formidable of the group of lady-critics (Jane Jacobs, Ada Louise Huxtable, etc) who kept the U.S. architectural establishment continually on the run during the 50s and 60s".


  • 1903 born in Dresden, German Reich.
  • 1920's marries, but soon separates from and then obtains a divorce from Carl Dreyfus.
  • 1929(or 1931?) meets László Moholy-Nagy while working in the scenario office of the Tobis [Moving] Picture Syndicate in Berlin.
  • 1932 marries László Moholy-Nagy.
  • 1934(?) emigrates to the United States.
  • 1944 her only published novel, Children's Children, appears.
  • 1946 László Moholy-Nagy dies of leukemia.
  • 1947 assumes first full-time teaching position at the Institute of Design in Chicago.
  • 1948 teaches for a year at Bradley University in Peoria.
  • 1949 moves to California, where she teaches at the Rudolph Schaeffer School of Design in San Francisco and at the University of California at Berkeley.
  • 1951 returns back east to accept a position at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.
  • 1969 retires as full professor from the Pratt Institute.
  • 1971 dies in New York Hospital (NYC) on January 8th, at age 67.


  • Moholy-Nagy: Experiment in Totality, intro. Walter Gropius, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1950, 262 pp; 2nd ed., MIT Press, xviii+259 pp.
    • Laszlo Moholy-Nagy: ein Totalexperiment, Mainz: Kupferberg, 1972, 202 pp. (German)
    • Moholy-Nagy: la sperimentazione totale, trans. Antonello Negri, Milan: Longanesi, 1975, 283 pp. (Italian)
  • Native Genius in Anonymous Architecture, New York: Horizon Press, 1957, 223 pp.
  • Carlos Raul Villanueva and the Architecture of Venezuela / Carlos Raúl Villanueva y la arquitectura de Venezuela, trans. Clara Diament de Sujo, New York: Praeger, 1964, 179 pp; London: Tiranti, 1964. (English)/(Spanish)
    • Carlos Raúl Villanueva und die Architektur Venezuelas, Stuttgart: Hatje, 1964, 179 pp.
  • Matrix of Man: An Illustrated History of Urban Environment, New York: Praeger, 1968, 317 pp, OL.
    • Die Stadt als Schicksal: Geschichte der urbanen Welt, Munich: Callwey, 1968, 339 pp. (German)


  • Judith Paine, "Sibyl Moholy-Nagy: A Complete Life", Archives of American Art Journal 15:4, 1975, pp 11-16.
  • Hilde Heynen, "Navigating the Self: Sibyl Moholy-Nagy’s Exploration of American Architecture", in Oriental-Occidental Geography, Identity, Space: Proceedings, 2001 ACSA International Conference, Washington: ACSA Press, 2001, pp 151-155.
  • Hilde Heynen, "Anonymous Architecture as Counter-Image: Sibyl Moholy-Nagy's Perspective on American Vernacular", The Journal of Architecture, 2008, pp 469-491.
  • Hannelore Rüttgens-Pohlmann, Kunstwerk eines Lebens. Sibyl Moholy-Nagy. Rekonstruktion des biographischen Verlaufs einer deutschen Emigrantin, BIS-Verlag, 2008. (German)
  • Hilde Heynen, Sibyl Moholy-Nagy: Architecture, Modernism and its Discontents, Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2019, xvi+265 pp. [1]
  • Hilde Heynen, Sibyl Moholy-Nagy. Kritikerin der Moderne, ed. Stiftung Sächsischer Architekten, Sandstein, 2019, 192 pp. [2] (German)