. August 19, 2015

Exhibition on view September 4-December 31, 2015; Conference September 25-27, 2015

Asheville, NC…Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (BMCM+AC) presents a special exhibition and its annual conference on the Bauhaus in the U.S., focusing on two important centers led by highly influential artists and professors who had taught at the famed German institution. In 1933, Josef Albers was invited to teach at the newly opened Black Mountain College (BMC) outside Asheville, NC, and, in 1937, László Moholy-Nagy established the New Bauhaus/Institute of Design in Chicago (ID). Both men had emigrated to the U.S. during the turbulent years preceding World War II when the Bauhaus, founded by eminent German architect Walter Gropius in 1919, was closed by the Nazis in 1933.

Hazel Larsen Archer, Buckminster Fuller's 1949 Dome at Black Mountain College, Summer 1949, gelatin silver prints, 13.75 x 21 inches (overall), 3.875  x  3.875 inches (ea).  © Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer.

Hazel Larsen Archer, Buckminster Fuller’s 1949 Dome at Black Mountain College, Summer 1949, gelatin silver prints, 13.75 x 21 inches (overall), 3.875 x 3.875 inches (ea). © Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer.

CONVERGENCE / DIVERGENCE: Exploring Black Mountain College and Chicago’s New Bauhaus/Institute of Design is organized by Michael Reid, an independent researcher and graphic artist, and on view September 4 – December 31, 2015.

The annual conference, “ReVIEWING Black Mountain College 7: Bauhaus + USA,” takes place at BMCM+AC’s newly expanded facility in downtown Asheville and at the University of North Carolina at Asheville from September 25 – 27, 2015.

“The Bauhaus was a radical and extraordinary experiment in education that set a foundation for interdisciplinary arts education and practice. One can hardly overstate the impact of the Bauhaus, which is clearly recognizable in art schools and museums, but also in trends today towards more collaborative workspaces, creative packaging design, and the design of furnishings in our own living rooms” said Katherine de Vos Devine, Executive Director of BMCM+AC.

CONVERGENCE / DIVERGENCE explores the relationship between BMC and the New Bauhaus (renamed the Institute of Design in 1944) as innovators and direct educational descendants of the Bauhaus in America, their similarities and differences. Mr. Reid said, “At a time when most colleges and universities were still married to a far more rigid educational model born in the 19th century, Black Mountain College and the Institute of Design, though distinct in structure and place, took a largely untraveled path that embraced experiment itself as an instructional objective. The participation at these schools by many of the same faculty, lecturers, pedagogical fellow travelers and acolytes of modernism contributed to a commonality of purpose in the absence of any relationship between Albers and Moholy-Nagy.”

The exhibition features over one hundred artworks and objects in a variety of mediums-from BMC’s distinguished collection and on loan from around the country-created by Albers and Moholy-Nagy, their fellow teachers and students, including Anni Albers, John Cage, Harry Callahan, Buckminster Fuller, Howard Dearstyne, Gropius, Wassily Kandinsky, Barbara Morgan, Xanti Schawinsky, Kenneth Snelson, Emerson Woeffler, among many others. A rich representation of photography, prints, catalogues, letters, and other printed materials provide a window onto the artistic, educational, and social environments at the two institutions.

Three primary areas of focus reveal the connections shared by these institutions and links with the original Bauhaus (Gropius, for example, served on the boards of BMC and ID) as well as the philosophical and directional differences that made each markedly original in their approach to higher education. First, while both Albers and Moholy-Nagy taught foundation courses at the original Bauhaus (mandatory one-year introductory classes preceding specialized workshops) and developed their pedagogical philosophies concurrently in Germany, their resultant American schools travelled along distinctly disparate paths. Further, their individual presences were instrumental in shaping these unique institutions-BMC as a forerunner in progressive, interdisciplinary education with a focus on the arts and ID as a Bauhaus-based workshop model. Both schools changed direction when their leaders left.

Secondly, Albers and Moholy-Nagy, as influential as they were, were an entrée for the many other Bauhaus teachers and former Bauhaus students who ultimately joined the faculties of both schools. Despite the fact that neither taught nor lectured at the campus led by the other, the list of people who did cross-pollinate these institutions is long and distinguished.

Finally, despite the differences in character, pedagogy, curriculum, and the setting of these two places, a small but significant number of students chose, as part of their education, to share in the experience of attending both schools. Examining several of these individuals and their subsequent careers will illuminate the role that these two adapted Bauhaus educational models had in nurturing and defining modernism in the American culture.

Public opening reception: Friday, September 4, 5:30-8:00 p.m.; Gallery talk by the curator at 7:00 pm.
A full-color, 64-page catalogue accompanies this exhibition and will be available for sale at BMCM+AC.

Annual Black Mountain College Conference, September 25-27, 2015

“ReVIEWING Black Mountain College 7: Bauhaus + USA” is co-hosted by BMCM+AC and University of North Carolina, Asheville. The three-day program, open to the public for a fee, focuses on the Bauhaus legacy in the U.S. with a full schedule of speakers, panels, workshops, and performances.

Keynote Speaker:
Ellen Lupton, Senior Curator of Contemporary Design, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and Director of the Graphic Design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore; author and curator.

Featured Speakers:
Brenda Danilowitz, Chief Curator, The Josef & Anni Albers Foundation;
Margret Kentgens-Craig, former Head of the Department of Archives and Collections at the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, Germany, and author of The Bauhaus and America: First Contacts 1919-1936;
Fabienne Eggelhoefer, Curator at the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland; and
Jonathan Creasy: 2015 DAAD Scholar at Freie Universität Berlin and Das Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin.

Registration, schedule, and additional information: www.blackmountaincollege.org

About Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center

The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (BMCM+AC) was founded in 1993, in Asheville, NC, to preserve and pay tribute to the history and legacy of innovation of Black Mountain College (1933-57) and to acknowledge the College’s role as a forerunner in progressive, interdisciplinary education with a focus on the arts.

With its emphasis on the individual rather than the institution and its striking success in attracting people of great talent and originality, the College drew a roster of gifted mavericks, some of whom went on to become well-known and highly influential in the latter half of the 20th century. A partial list includes: Josef and Anni Albers, John Cage, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Buckminster Fuller, Francine du Plessix Gray, Ray Johnson, Karen Karnes, Franz Kline, Jacob Lawrence, Kenneth Noland, Charles Olson, Arthur Penn, Robert Rauschenberg, M.C. Richards, Dorothea Rockburne, Ben Shahn, Cy Twombly, Jonathan Williams and many others who have impacted the world in a significant way.

BMCM+AC’s programming targets both the historical importance of the College and the many ways that its legacy remains relevant and vital today with exhibitions, seminars, panel discussions, publications, film and video screenings, and oral history interviews with surviving BMC faculty and students. In early 2016, a new expansive dedicated gallery space will open across the street from the current BMCM+AC facility in downtown Asheville. www.blackmountaincollege.org

Category: Museum News

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