artists & participants
Founded in 1933 in North Carolina, USA, Black Mountain College rapidly rose to fame on account of its progressive and at that time unique educational concept. Artists such as John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg, and scholars such as Peter Bergmann, Natasha Goldowski, Max Dehn and Paul Radin were among the many prominent figures who taught or studied there. Inspired by the forward-thinking pedagogical ideas of philosopher John Dewey, the experimental, interdisciplinary educational institute exerted an enormous influence upon the development of the arts in the second half of the 20th century. The exhibition traces the history of this university experiment in its main outlines. In the first few years of its existence, the college was strongly shaped by German and European émigrés—among them several former Bauhaus members. After the Second World War, the creative impulses issued increasingly from young American artists and academics, who commuted between rural Black Mountain and the urban centres on the East and West Coast. Right up to its closure in 1957, the college remained imbued with the ideas of European modernism, the philosophy of American pragmatism and teaching methods that aimed to encourage personal initiative as well as the social competence of the individual.
The Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin presents the first comprehensive exhibition in Germany devoted to this legendary university experiment. Within an architectural environment designed by the architects' collective raumlabor_berlin, the exhibition features works by Black Mountain teachers—including Josef Albers and Anni Albers as well as Xanti Schawinsky, Walter Gropius, Richard Buckminster Fuller, John Cage, Franz Kline and Charles Olson—and students, such as Ruth Asawa, Ray Johnson, Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly. A wealth of photographs and documentary film footage, as well as publications by scholars and artists who taught at the college, offer an insight into the way in which the institute worked and into life on campus.