Work of the Week — Ronald Robertson

Monday, August 15, 2016

by Jason T. PerryBMCRP_NCDAH_studiesBuilding_construction1

Ronald Robertson created his painting Studies Building at Black Mountain College in 1951, and it fits perfectly into the Museum’s new exhibit Geometric Vistas: Landscapes by Artists of Black Mountain College. This piece is special because it’s not just a geometrical landscape by a Black Mountain College artist; it is a landscape of one of Black Mountain College’s most important buildings.

According to, the Studies Building at Black Mountain College is the largest structure built by the College. Overall the building is 202 feet long and 28 feet wide that contains two enclosed stories. The building provided 61 student studies, 10 faculty studies and classrooms and two faculty apartments.

A. Lawrence Kocher designed the impressive structure. He wanted a building that was modern in design but simple enough to put together by unskilled workers (students and faculty).  He wrote that such modern designs based on “the setting up of space and activity requirements… would be an inspiring examples to other schools, all of whom were too strongly influenced at the outset b a desire appearance.” The building was constructed next to Lake Eden, and although the location proved to have many difficulties building next to water, it is obvious why Kocher chose the beautiful location.

The Studies Building is apparent at the bottom of Robertson’s oil painting. It is interesting to get an artistic point of view of the building from an actual BMC student. Robertson would have spent a large amount of time in the Studies Building, so it is easy to see where his inspiration came from. Robertson paints out a simplistic version of the building that shows off how truly modern the architecture design is from the building. The background portrays the beauty of the mountains behind the building, and it gives a clear answer as to how so many artist from BMC found inspiration.

Picture above: Black Mountain College’s Building Study under construction.

Artwork below: Ronald Robertson, Studies Building at Black Mountain College, 1951, oil on Masonite, 17.9 x 18.6 inches, Black Mountain College Collection, Gift of the Artist, 2013.19.04.21