Black Mountain College Museum Showcases Mid-20th Century Artists
By Natasha Anderson
Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, in Asheville, presents The Painters of Black Mountain College: Selections from Southern Collections, through Saturday, December 31, and Basil King: Between Painting and Writing, through Saturday, December 24. Both exhibits feature the work of artists associated with Black Mountain College (BMC), the former providing a who’s who of 20th century artists and the latter exemplifying the independence and interdisciplinary qualities for which the school is famous.
“People love this show!” says program director and curator Alice Sebrell, of The Painters of Black Mountain College: Selections From Southern Collections. “One reason may be that the scope of the exhibition is so broad, with dozens of BMC painters represented—some extremely famous and others virtually unknown. But the individual paintings are quite powerful, and that’s what is bringing people back to see the show a second or third time.”
Artists of many different styles and time periods are represented, from Europeans like Josef Albers, Willem de Kooning and Theodoros Stamos, to Americans including Robert Rauschenberg, Jacob Lawrence, Robert Motherwell, Elaine de Kooning, Kenneth Noland, Dorothea Rockburne, Cy Twombly and Robert De Niro, Sr. With pieces drawn from the museum’s collection and borrowed from other collections in the south, the exhibit highlights the cumulative impact these painters have had on the history and trajectory of art.
Basil King: Between Painting and Writing presents the work of King, a Brooklyn resident better known as a poet and illustrator. King studied painting at BMC with Joseph Fiore and Esteban Vicente, and poetry with Charles Olson and Robert Creeley, before moving to New York, where he remains an important member of the poetry and art scene. Between Painting and Writing presents his poetry, illustrations and paintings as a unified body of work.
“Basil is one of a dwindling number of living alumni,” says Sebrell. “He’s still active in his studio every day, and it’s nothing short of inspiring to witness someone of his age who is driven to create new work on a daily basis.”
Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, founded in 1993, is committed to educating the public about the history of BMC and promoting awareness of its legacy through exhibitions, publications, lectures, films, seminars and oral histories. “The heart of the college resonates with contemporary culture in many ways,” says the museum’s executive director Jeff Arnal. “The forward-thinking, liberal arts curriculum, experimentation and the entrepreneurial spirit continue to inspire multiple generations of artists alongside droves of ongoing learners in the western Carolina region and visitors from around the world.”
Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is located at 56 Broadway and 69 Broadway, in Asheville. Hours are Monday, 11 A.M. to 5 P.M., and Wednesday through Saturday, 11 A.M. to 5 P.M., with hours extended until 8 P.M. on the first Friday of every month from April through December as part of the Downtown Asheville Art Walk. Admission is by donation. Learn more at blackmountaincollege.org.