Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957
Black Mountain College 1933–1957
“Few legends loom quite as large as that of Black Mountain College.”—New York Times
This fall, step into an immersive, sweeping exploration of one of America’s most important artistic legacies. Featuring 200 works by 90 artists, Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957 sheds light on an experimental school in North Carolina that has had an extraordinary impact on contemporary art. Its influence is still profoundly felt today—and perhaps nowhere more pervasively than at the Wex, where this acclaimed exhibition makes its only stop in the Midwest.
Leap Before You Look chronicles how, over a relatively brief period of time, this rural college became a crucial incubator and gathering place for future giants of the midcentury avant-garde. The exhibition features formative work by such teachers and students as visual artists Anni and Josef Albers, Ruth Asawa, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Ray Johnson, Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence, Robert Rauschenberg, and Cy Twombly; architect Buckminster Fuller; and poets Robert Creeley and Charles Olson. While the traditional arts of sculpture and painting are amply represented, they’re given equal billing with weaving, metalwork, jewelry design, and furniture produced at the school. Along with extensive archival photographs and recordings, the exhibition is brought to life by in-gallery performances of work created and inspired by choreographer Merce Cunningham and composer John Cage.
A radical, idealistic initiative, Black Mountain College broke new ground in arts education—encouraging teachers and students to collaborate, to improvise as well as rehearse, and to create beyond category. As a place that encouraged artists to push traditional disciplines as far as they might go, Black Mountain stands as the model for today’s contemporary arts institutions. Indeed, the Wex—itself multidisciplinary, experimental, and risk-taking—shares more than just DNA with Black Mountain. Three artists in the show (Cage, Cunningham, and Rauschenberg) have been honored with the prestigious Wexner Prize, and many others have been the focus of Wex programs over the years.
Remarkably, Leap Before You Look is the first comprehensive US exhibition to chart Black Mountain’s seismic impact on art pedagogy and practice. Its restless, joyous spirit lives on at the Wex. Come see what happens when art, music, and dance collide in an acclaimed laboratory for contemporary art.
Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957 is organized by The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston and curated by Helen Molesworth, chief curator, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, with Ruth Erickson, associate curator, The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston.
This exhibition has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence. Major support is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Henry Luce Foundation.
Additional support is generously provided by Chuck and Kate Brizius, Robert and Jane Burke, Katie and Paul Buttenwieser, the Robert E. Davoli and Eileen L. McDonagh Charitable Foundation, Bridgitt and Bruce Evans, James and Audrey Foster, Erica Gervais and Ted Pappendick, Vivien and Alan Hassenfeld and the Hassenfeld Family Foundation, Curtis R. Kemeny, Kathleen McDonough and Edward Berman, Ellen Poss, David and Leslie Puth, Cynthia and John Reed, and Charles and Francene Rodgers.
Presenting sponsor for Leap Before You Look at the Wexner Center is the Cardinal Health Foundation.
Major support is provided by Megan and Mark Kvamme and Nancy Kramer and Christopher Celeste.
Additional support is provided by Paige and Mike Crane, the Merce Cunningham Trust, Katie and Brett Kaufman, Ben Maiden and Karen Bell in loving memory of Jan Maiden, Portfolio Creative, Arlene and Michael Weiss, and anonymous donors.
Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Free for members, college students (with valid ID), those under 18
$8 general public
$6 senior citizens (65 and older)
$6 Ohio State faculty and staff (with BUCK ID)
All visitors are admitted to the exhibitions for free on Thursdays after 4 pm and on the first Sunday of each month; admission is also free with a ticket to any same-day Wexner Center event. The Exhibitions are closed on Mondays.
Please note: You will be asked to check backpacks, large purses and other large bags, and umbrellas before entering the galleries. Click here for full list of policies, including items prohibited in the galleries.
Wexner Center members always enjoy free gallery admission. Not a member? Join now.
LEAP BEFORE YOU LOOK MADE POSSIBLE BY
National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence
PRESENTING SPONSOR FOR LEAP BEFORE YOU LOOK AT THE WEX
Cardinal Health Foundation
Megan and Mark Kvamme
Nancy Kramer and Christopher Celeste
Paige and Mike Crane
Merce Cunningham Trust
Katie and Brett Kaufman
Ben Maiden and Karen Bell in loving memory of Jan Maiden
Arlene and Michael Weiss
WCBE 90.5 FM
SUPPORT FOR FREE AND LOW-COST PROGRAMS
Cardinal Health Foundation
GENERAL OPERATING SUPPORT FOR THE WEXNER CENTER
Greater Columbus Arts Council
Ohio Arts Council
The Columbus Foundation