From the Library - Black Mountain

This week from TMS' library we have Black Mountain: an interdisciplinary experiment 1933-1957

Founded in 1933 in North Carolina, USA, Black Mountain rapidly rose to fame on account of its progressive teaching methods and the many prominent figures who taught and studied there. Its influence upon the development of the arts in the second half of the 20th century was enormous; the performatisation of the arts, in particular, that emerged as from the 1950s derived vital impetus from the experimental practice at Black Mountain.


The founders wanted to establish a democratic, experiential, interdisciplinary educational facility in line with the forward-thinking pedagogical ideas of philosopher John Dewey. 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 such as Josef and Anni Albers, Alexander “Xanti" Schawinsky and Walter Gropius. 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 interdisciplinary and experimental methods and community-based forms of living adopted at Black Mountain had a profound influence upon the artistic and social transformations of the 1960s and are still relevant today.


"black mountain is an experiment in education . it is an experiment in that its future cannot be given in advance. it is an experiment in that it is in constant formation and re-formation. it is an experiment in that it is itself no so much and answer as a question." —Albert William Levi, 1947


Black Mountain: An Interdisciplinary Experiment 1933-1957

Published by Spector Books for the Nationalgalerie — Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Edited by Eugen Blume, Matilda Felix, Gabriele Knapstein and Catherine Nichols

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