Leap Before You Look

Black Mountain College 1933-1957

Exhibition Website

- May 15 2016

Hammer Museum

Los Angeles, CA

The first comprehensive museum exhibition in the United States about the experimental liberal arts college where influential artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, Josef and Anni Albers, and Merce Cunningham studied and taught.

Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957 focuses on how, despite its brief existence, BMC became a seminal meeting place for many of the artists, musicians, poets, and thinkers who would become the principal practitioners of the postwar period. Teaching at the college combined the craft principles of Germany’s revolutionary Bauhaus school with interdisciplinary inquiry, discussion, and experimentation, forming the template for American art schools.

The exhibition contains a rich and varied mixture of materials in the areas of painting, sculpture, weaving, and pottery. There are also documentary photographs and other archival ephemera, books printed on campus by BMC poets and sound works of readings, and a stage and piano for performances to take place regularly during the run of the exhibition. There were four main instructors at the college—Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, John Cage, and Charles Olson—and the exhibition will show works by each, alongside works by their students and other faculty, including Anni, Ruth Asawa, Merce Cunningham, Robert Creeley, Jess, Ray Johnson, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Gwendolyn and Jacob Lawrence, Robert Rauschenberg, M.C. Richards, Cy Twombly, Peter Voulkos, and Susan Weil.

Exhibition overview from the Hammer Museum website

Whether or not you go, the exhibition catalog, Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957, is a singular exploration of this legendary school and of the work of the artists who spent time there. Spanning everything from its farm program to the influence of Bauhaus principles—and about the people and ideas that gave it such a lasting impact, entries highlight selected works, including writings, musical compositions, visual arts, and crafts.

  • American
  • 20th Century

Exhibition Venues & Dates