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György Kepes
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Kepes, György

Carroll Gantz
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György Kepes

Painter, designer, educator and art theorist born in Selyp, Hungary. In 1924, he enrolled in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest, and studied with Hungarian impressionist painter Istvan Csok. In 1930, he settled in Berlin and turned to filmmaking and served as an exhibition and stage designer. He was invited to join the design studio of László Moholy-Nagy, a Hungarian who had taught at the Bauhaus. When Moholy-Nagy relocated to London in 1936, Kepes joined him there. In 1937, Moholy-Nagy was invited to become the director of the New Bauhaus in Chicago. He invited Kepes to join him and head a department of light and color. While teaching, Kepes refined his ideas about design theory, form, function, and what he called the “education of vision.” In 1943, he was lured to Brooklyn College by Serge Chermayeff, who had been appointed chair of the art department there in 1942. There he taught graphic artists like Saul Bass, and offered wartime advice to the military on camouflage. In 1944 he published Language of Vision, an influential book on design Education which was widely used as a textbook. In 1947, Kepes accepted an invitation from the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT to initiate a program in visual design, which became the Center for Advanced Visual Studies circa 1968. Kepes remained at MIT until his retirement in 1974. During this time, he moved toward abstract painting. In 1956, he inspired an exhibition which became a book, The New Landscape in Art and Science, that paired modern artwork with hi-tech devices such as x-rays, stroboscopic photography, electron microscopes, sonar, radar, infrared sensors, etc. His work had a profound influence on young architecture, planning, and visual art students. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1958 In 1966, he edited a set of six anthologies, published as the Vision + Value Series. Each volume contained more than 200 pages of essays by the most prominent artists, designers, architects and scientists of the time. He continued to work as a designer of stained glass windows, and as a sculptor. In 1996, he received the Medal of Honor and the Middle Cross from the Republic of Hungary. In recognition of his achievements, there is a Kepes Visual Centre in Eger, Hungary, displaying his paintings and photographs, as well as his archives. He died in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2001. The Kepes Prize is awarded annually at MIT.

100 Years of Design consists of excerpts from a book by Carroll M. Gantz, FIDSA, entitled, Design Chronicles: Significant Mass-produced Designs of the 20th Century, published August 2005 by Schiffer Publications, Ltd.
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