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Asheville Art Museum celebrates artist and students of Black Mountain College in lasting gifts
Joseph Fiore, Black Mountain, Lake Eden, 1954. Watercolor on paper, 14 x 18 inches. Gift of the Falcon Charitable Foundation. Asheville Art Museum, Black Mountain College Collection. 2012.53.01.22.
ASHEVILLE, NC.- Lasting Gifts, an exhibition featuring works from a wide array of students and teachers who attended the legendary Black Mountain College, opens at the Asheville Art Museum on Saturday, July 27, 2013. The exhibition will be celebrated with an Opening Reception on Friday, August 2 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. (free with membership or regular Museum admission). Lasting Gifts will remain on view through Sunday, January 19, 2014 (previously scheduled to close on November 17, 2013).

Lasting Gifts presents a small selection of recent acquisitions to the Asheville Art Museum’s ever-growing Black Mountain College Collection, which now stands at more than 1,100 works to date. The College, a liberal arts institution that operated from 1933 to 1957 in Black Mountain, North Carolina, welcomed and nurtured some of the most prominent figures in mid-century American art and culture.

Although the program was not limited to any particular style, technique or school of thought, the pedagogical impulse throughout Black Mountain College’s existence emphasized experimentation and experience. The school endeavored to operate democratically, with everyone contributing to keep the small college community running. Artists Josef Albers, Anni Albers, Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Ruth Asawa and Buckminster Fuller all studied or taught at Black Mountain College. Josef Albers’s courses in color, design, drawing and painting, and Anni Albers’s weaving and textile design classes, which adapted Bauhaus teaching to general education, have had a lasting influence on art education. The 1940’s saw the addition of special summer sessions in the arts which attracted a large number of artists. A work-study construction program by BMC students and faculty became a breeding ground for future architects and designers under the tutelage of American modernist architect A. Lawrence Kocher and others. Renowned Bauhaus teacher and founder Walter Gropius lectured at summer programs. The late 1940’s and 1950’s saw a greater emphasis on the arts with writing, printing, performances, musical recitals, poetry readings, theatrical productions and the early “happenings” staged by composer and conceptual artist John Cage.

Lasting Gifts presents works by artists who either taught or studied at Black Mountain College. Portraits, like Marianne Preger-Simon's ink drawings, capture personalities of Black Mountain College students and teachers. The campus architecture program and Lake Eden landscape are represented in William Albert Lanier’s elegant Plan for the Minimum House and Joe Fiore’s expressive Black Mountain, Lake Eden. The playful classroom experiment in John Urbain’s Untitled (BMC Study/Abstract) makes way for his more sophisticated meditation on color and geometric abstraction, Three Heads.

Due to its lasting influence on American art since the middle of the 20th century, Black Mountain College has long been an area of collecting focus by the Asheville Art Museum. In 2007, the Museum began a partnership with Mary Emma Harris, Black Mountain College scholar and director of the Black Mountain College Project. This exhibition represents a small selection of works from a rapidly growing collection representative of our region’s and nation’s cultural heritage.

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