Lasting Gifts

Saturday, July 27 - Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lasting Gifts presents a small selection of recent acquisitions to the Asheville Art Museum’s ever-growing Black Mountain College (BMC) Collection. 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 midcentury American art and culture.

Although the program was not limited to any particular style, technique or school of thought, the pedagogical impulse throughout the College’s existence emphasized experimentation and experience. Bauhaus teachers Josef and Anni Albers taught at Black Mountain College from 1933 through the spring of 1949. 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.

Many of the works exhibited in Lasting Gifts were created by artists while at the college during the years in which it operated. More recent works often hearken back to lessons learned. As printmaker Margaret Kennard Johnson reflects, “My study with Josef Albers way back during the summer of 1944 changed my art, my teaching and my life – and the inspiration of his philosophy continues to inspire my current work.”



Lasting Gifts is sponsored by the Maurer Family Foundation. In addition, the exhibition and all related public programs are made possible in part by a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide non-profit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Museum thanks Mary Emma Harris for her dedication to the history of Black Mountain College and to the Asheville Art Museum Black Mountain College Research and Collection Project.

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The Black Mountain College Research and Digitization Project is supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the North Carolina Arts Council.

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About the Black Mountain College (BMC) Collection of the Asheville Art Museum:

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. Lasting Gifts highlights a small sample of work from a rapidly growing collection representative of the region’s and nation’s cultural heritage.


View selected works in the exhibition »