Black Mountain College: A Radical Vision
Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center
June 17 – November 27, 2004
Wed-Sat, 12pm-4pm

Black Mountain College closed its doors almost fifty years ago, yet its recognized importance and impact on world culture grows ever larger. The new exhibition at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is not intended as a history, but rather as a thematic glimpse of three core ideas embodied by the College: Community, Education, and The Arts. The show takes its title, “A Radical Vision / Black Mountain College” from a poem written by BMC faculty member M.C. Richards.

Comprised of artwork, furniture, rare photographs, and original College publications, the exhibition provides an overview of the quirky school which opened in 1933 and closed 24 brief years later in 1957. The work in the show, all from the BMC Museum + Art Center’s collection, includes paintings by Joseph Fiore and Xanti Schawinsky; a chair and side table designed by Lawrence Kocher, the architect of the impressive Studies Building on the BMC campus; a student’s class notebook from Anni Albers’ weaving class; a loom made by F.R. Georgia, BMC co-founder and original faculty member; and rare photographs of such BMC luminaries as Robert Rauschenberg and Josef Albers alongside interesting photos of daily life at the College.

Included among the original publications on display is a hot pink playbill for the College’s 1948 production of “The Ruse of Medusa” by Erik Satie. The cast reads like a who’s who list of 20th century cultural innovators including: R. Buckminster Fuller, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Merce Cunningham, M.C. Richards, John Cage, and Ruth Asawa. Arthur Penn directed the play.

Also included is an explanatory text describing the rationale behind the familiar circular College seal and bookplate design created by Josef Albers in 1934. Albers wrote “…as a symbol of union, we have chosen simply a simple ring. It is an emphasized ring to emphasize coming together, standing together, working together. Or it is one circle within another: color and white, light and shadow, in balance. And that no one may puzzle over cryptic monograms, we give our full address.”

Black Mountain College’s emphasis on community, free inquiry, creativity, and the experimental spirit attracted radical thinkers and fearless doers. This exhibition remembers and honors the radical vision that gave birth to, and sustained, the unique and remarkable place that was Black Mountain College.

The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center preserves and continues the unique legacy of educational and artistic innovation of Black Mountain College for public study and enjoyment. We achieve our mission through collection, conservation, and educational activities including exhibition, publication, and public programs.