Black Mountain College, USA. Community Learning

After the rise to power of the Nazi party in 1933, the Bauhaus was forced to close, as the authorities considered the school a nest of communists and liberals and a source of what they termed ‘degenerate art’. Both Anni and her husband, Josef Albers, a teacher at the Bauhaus, were invited that same year by Philip Johnson, a curator at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, to teach at Black Mountain College (North Carolina, USA). This small experimental art school had been founded by Andrew Rice and Theodore Dreier, two teachers at Rollins College in Florida. Out of frustration with the traditional teaching system, they had decided to open a center of their own where they would offer an interdisciplinary artistic education based on principles of community and collaboration. Visual art itself was to be the basis of the curiculum. The students lived together and shared in the upkeep and management of the facilities, including gardens and farmland. Priority was given to practice over theory, and both students and teachers were encouraged to experiment with new methods and techniques. Other artists who also went to teach at Black Mountain, attracted by the freedom it offered, included the choreographer Merce Cunningham (who founded his own dance company there), the musician John Cage, and the artist Willem de Kooning.

On her experience at Black Mountain College, Albers remarked:

"It turned out to be a very interesting place because it gave us a freedom to build up our own work […] I built up a weaving workshop and got into teaching and developed teaching methods."