Black Mountain. An Interdisciplinary Experiment 1933 - 1957

5 Jun 2015 – 27 Sep 2015

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10:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00

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Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart

Berlin, Germany

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Two works by Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg in the permanent collection of the Nationalgalerie originated at Black Mountain College (BMC) in 1951 and 1952. These works form the starting point of an exhibition about the legendary American arts college, which existed from 1933 to 1957 near Asheville in North Carolina.


College lecturer John Andrew Rice founded Black Mountain as a learning community which, with its progressive principles and methods of education, moved beyond the teaching practices previously standard at colleges and universities. Black Mountain was conceived right from the start as an interdisciplinary and above all experimental college that promoted collaboration, in line with the forward-thinking educational system proposed by philosopher John Dewey. Not least thanks to the many leading personalities who taught and studied there, Black Mountain remains a fascinating example of a self-governed and self-sustaining college. Here teaching and learning were able to develop and evolve in an ongoing process of productive exchange. With the show in the Hamburger Bahnhof, Black Mountain College is presented as the successful model of a multi-disciplinary practice for the first time in a museum exhibition in Germany.

What set Black Mountain apart was Rice's belief that the curriculum should include not just the natural sciences and the humanities, but that students should also receive teaching in the various disciplines of art. Rice regularly staffed the individual departments with radical thinkers who went far beyond the existing bounds of their subject. At the recommendation of architect Philip Johnson, in the College's founding year of 1933 Rice appointed Bauhaus teacher Josef Albers - emigrating from Nazi Germany - as artistic director. Thanks to the passionate commitment of Josef and Anni Albers and of other emigrants from Germany who likewise taught at Black Mountain over the course of the 1930s and 1940s, the College profited in its early years from the educational principles and practical, applied-arts orientation of the Bauhaus and from the academic and artistic achievements of European modernism.

The exhibition begins by looking at the influence of the Bauhaus upon the cosmos of ideas at Black Mountain. Among the former Bauhaus members teaching at the College were not only Josef and Anni Albers, but also others such as Alexander Schawinsky and Walter Gropius. At the centre of the exhibition, whose architecture is designed by raumlaborberlin, are selected key events and pioneering artistic achievements that were developed and explored at Black Mountain and which significantly shaped the history of art in the second half of the 20th century.

The exhibition aims not only to offer a historical retrospective but also to spotlight current debates on aspects of the education and training of artists today.  Students from various art colleges are invited to present selected archival documents, literary texts and artistic scores within the exhibition itself over the entire duration of the show. The artist and composer Arnold Dreyblatt has specifically created a concept entitled "Performing the Black Mountain Archive" for these readings. Within the framework of a timing schedule drawn up by Dreyblatt, short performances will take place at various locations within the exhibition space.

Curators: Eugen Blume, Gabriele Knapstein; Research Assistant and Coordinator: Matilda Felix

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue.

An exhibition by the Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart - Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, in co-operation with the Freie Universität Berlin and the Dahlem Humanities Center, funded by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes.


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