Photographs from a New Bauhaus Artist

Lerner's Light Box Study with Mirror

Nathan Lerner. Light Box Study with Mirror.
Gelatin silver print, 1937 (printed later). 356 x 279 mm.
Gift of John Chatzky and Debbie Mullin, 2019.

February 14, 2023

Nathan Lerner was born in Chicago in 1913 to parents who had emigrated from Ukraine. He began his artistic studies at nine years old, taking painting classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. As a teenager he turned to photography, beginning with a documentary series of his own Maxwell Street neighborhood.

While a student working with László Moholy-Nagy at the New Bauhaus in Chicago in the late 1930s, he invented the light box as a tool for creating abstract studies of light and form. The image above dates from that period. Later on Lerner, an astonishingly prolific product designer, created (among many other things) the Honey Bear bottle, the sponge mop, and the “Corn Popper” push toy.

Click here to see all works by Nathan Lerner in the GU Art Collection.

Click here for an amazing list of Lerner’s designs and patents from the artist’s website.

Christen E. Runge, Assistant Curator, University Art Collection