Ati Gropius Forberg Johansen

Above: Untitled (Guitar), 1945. Oil on cardboard. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. | Below: Footnotes on the year 1944, ca. 1995. Ink on paper. Collection of Black  Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Artist.

Ati Gropius Forberg Johansen (Student 1943-1946) (b.1926-d.2014)

Ati Gropius Forberg Johansen was an educator, designer, and illustrator. She was adopted at the age of nine by Bauhaus architect and founder Walter Gropius and his wife Ilse Frank. The family moved to the U.S. from Germany in 1937 to flee the Nazi regime. They first visited Black Mountain College that December to see fellow Bauhaus faculty Josef and Anni Albers and Xanti Schawinsky and to discuss the potential development of the college’s Lake Eden campus.

The family remained active participants in the college, visiting frequently until 1949 when Josef and Anni Albers departed. Walter Gropius was also a member of the Advisory Council and lectured periodically. Ati was a student at the college from 1943-1946. Initially resistant to the school, seeing the work program as punishment for her teenage rebellion, she almost immediately found the environment to be perfectly suited for her growth during these formative years. She studied with Josef and Anni Albers and was present for the first few Summer Art Institutes on campus. The Bauhaus philosophy had a big impact on her, as she became a designer, teacher, and later renovator of houses designed by her father.