Black Mountain College was a highly influential college founded at Black Mountain, North Carolina, USA, in 1933 where teaching was experimental and committed to an interdisciplinary approach

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  • Kenneth Noland, 'Gift' 1961-2
    Kenneth Noland
    Gift 1961-2
    Acrylic on canvas
    support: 1829 x 1829 mm
    Presented by the artist through the American Federation of Arts 1966© The estate of Kenneth Noland /VAGA, New York/DACS, London 2010
  • Robert Rauschenberg, 'Almanac' 1962
    Robert Rauschenberg
    Almanac 1962
    Oil, acrylic and silkscreen on canvas
    support: 2450 x 1535 x 25 mm
    frame: 2469 x 1552 x 45 mm
    Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1969© The estate of Robert Rauschenberg/VAGA, New York and DACS, London 2002
  • Josef Albers, 'Study for Homage to the Square: Departing in Yellow' 1964
    Josef Albers
    Study for Homage to the Square: Departing in Yellow 1964
    Oil on board
    support: 762 x 762 mm
    frame: 780 x 780 x 30 mm
    Purchased 1965© The Joseph and Annie Albers Foundation/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn and DACS, London, 2006

The college’s progressive principles were based on the educational theories of John Rice, its founder. In the curriculum, drama, music and fine art were given equal status to all other academic subjects. Teaching was informal and stress was laid on communal living and outdoor activities. Most of the work of running the college and maintaining the buildings was done by students and faculty. Black Mountain quickly became an extraordinary powerhouse of modern culture in America.

Its board of advisers included Albert Einstein, and among its teachers were some of the greatest luminaries of modern American culture. They included the founder of the Bauhaus, architect Walter Gropius, and Bauhaus teacher Josef Albers, who had fled Nazi Germany after the closure of the Bauhaus that same year and became one of the first teachers at the college. Abstract expressionist painters Willem de Kooning and Robert Motherwell, the composer John Cage and the dancer Merce Cunningham were all also associated with the school at one time or another.

In 1949 Albers and others left as a result of internal divisions. The College was reconstituted under the poet Charles Olson but eventually closed in 1953. Among its most notable artist students were Kenneth Noland and Robert Rauschenberg.