The legendary Black Mountain College, a small, experimental school near Asheville, North Carolina, that was an interdisciplinary incubator for generations of mid-20th-century artists, musicians, poets, and thinkers, will be the subject of an exhibition this fall at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. “Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957” will run from October 10, 2015 to January 24, 2016, and will include works by such notable faculty and alumni as Anni and Josef Albers, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Buckminster Fuller, Ruth Asawa, Robert Motherwell, Gwendolyn and Jacob Lawrence, Cy Twombly, and Franz Kline.
Black Mountain College was conceived in 1933 by John Andrew Rice, who was fired from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, amid a controversy over institutional policies. With other Rollins faculty members who were fired or resigned in protest—Theodore Dreier, Frederick Georgia, and Ralph Lounsbury—he founded Black Mountain with the belief that putting the arts at the center of a liberal arts education would better prepare students for participation in a democratic society.
The exhibition will be organized chronologically and thematically, with each gallery focusing on different aspects of the school’s practice, pedagogy, and philosophy.
Organized by ICA curator Helen Molesworth, with assistant curator Ruth Erickson, “Leap Before You Look” will include some 260 objects by almost 100 artists, along with archival materials, and a grand piano and dance floor for live performances. After its appearance at the ICA, the exhibition will travel to the Armand Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (February 21-May 14, 2016) and the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio (September 17, 2016–January 1, 2017.)