Around Asheville, North Carolina: Black Mountain College


There were signs of Black Mountain College, such as the one above and the nearby Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center, all around Asheville. Black Mountain College was a small experimental liberal arts school  from 1933 to 1956, which it closed due to lack of funds. It left a legacy in the arts, through the works of artists like Joseph and Anni Albers, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Kenneth Noland, Robert Rauschenberg, and Cy Twombly, who all taught or studied there. Something must have been in the air of the North Carolina mountains, or in the open curriculum, or in the conglomeration of different minds and talents. Arguably, the first Happening occurred here, in a performance under John Cage’s direction, long before the story of it, among other things, inspired Allan Kaprow to initiate his first Happening.


Not far from Asheville is the site of the former school, whose buildings were largely constructed by the teachers and students themselves. Now given over partially to guesthouses and partially to a summer camp for children, you can still walk around the old grounds. More pictures of it from a beautifully sunny day are below. I think the outdoor frescoes were painted by Joseph Albers, but I’d love to hear if anyone knows for sure.










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