Well the Missus and I trundled downtown yesterday to catch Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957 at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art and say, it was . . . actually accessible.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not really smart enough to understand most of what the ICA exhibits, but this show turns out to be the rare exception.
A small, experimental liberal arts college founded in 1933, Black Mountain College (BMC) has exerted enormous influence on the postwar cultural life of the United States. Influenced by the utopian ideals of the progressive education movement, it placed the arts at the center of liberal arts education and believed that in doing so it could better educate citizens for participation in a democratic society. It was a dynamic crossroads for refugees from Europe and an emerging generation of American artists. Profoundly interdisciplinary, it offered equal attention to painting, weaving, sculpture, pottery, poetry, music, and dance.
Everyone went to Black Mountain: “Figures such 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 Knight Lawrence, Charles Olson, and Robert Creeley, among many others, taught and studied at BMC.”
Representative samples in the exhibit include Willem de Kooning’s Asheville:
Jacob Lawrence’s Watchmaker:
And Neck Piece by Anni Albers and Alexander Reed.
In related news:
Last week’s WSJ Magazine featured an engaging Carol Kino piece about Black Mountain College.
And the Boston Globe’s redoubtable Sebastian Smee filed this review, which is smarter than anything I could ever muster.
But I can say one thing:
This exhibit – which includes recreations of poetry readings and dance performances – is thoroughly impressive and entirely enjoyable. You have until January 24 to catch it.