Geometric Vistas: Landscapes by Artists of Black Mountain College provides visitors with the opportunity to explore abstract landscapes and cityscapes created by artists who studied and taught at Black Mountain College between 1933 and 1957. Black Mountain College was situated in the mountains of Western North Carolina, surrounding its students and faculty with beautiful scenery from which to take inspiration. Because of its remarkable setting, many students and faculty painted, drew and photographed the school and its nearby surroundings, making landscape an integral part of the learning process. Using the skills they acquired at the College, each artist moved beyond a realist interpretation of the landscape to create abstract forms rooted in nature and geometry.
Featuring a wide variety of approaches to abstraction in landscapes, including Cubist fragmentation, gridded compositions, and pure geometric abstraction, the artists in this exhibition explore landscapes both near and far. Depictions of Paris, Chicago and Florence appear along with views of mountains and sea from across the United States. Some works, such as Ronald Robertson’s Studies Building at Black Mountain College, were created while the artist attended the College. Others, such as Gerald van de Wiele’s Magic Mountain, were painted at a later date, but hearken back to the artist’s time in the Appalachian Mountains. Several works provide a window into the teachings of professors, such as Josef Albers and Joseph Fiore, who continued to reference nature despite their bold moves into abstraction. Two works by John Urbain combine landscape imagery with poetry, embodying the rounded liberal arts education that characterized the College’s curriculum. Uniting the artists in the exhibition is an underlying interest in how geometric shapes, planes and compositions can push representations of land and city into a world beyond reality.