Black Mountain College

college in the United States known for its liberal and arts education

Black Mountain College was a school near Asheville, North Carolina. It existed from 1933 to 1957.

Black Mountain College
TypePrivate liberal arts college
DirectorJohn Andrew Rice (until 1940)
Administrative staff
about 30
Studentsabout 1,200 total
Location, ,
Black Mountain College Historic District
Black Mountain College is located in North Carolina
Black Mountain College
Black Mountain College is located in the United States
Black Mountain College
Nearest cityBlack Mountain, North Carolina
Area586.9 acres (237.5 ha)
Architectural styleBungalow, craftsman, International Style
NRHP reference No.82001281[1]
Added to NRHPOctober 5, 1982

The college was started by John Andrew Rice in 1933. He wanted to have a school that ran on philosopher John Dewey's ideas about education. One of the big ideas was that the study and practice of art was most important to a person's education.[2] Another idea was that students should be free to learn in their own way and in their own time.[3]

From the beginning, the school attracted faculty who were original thinkers and talented makers. These included John Andrew Rice (classical literature), Theodore Dreier (physics), Frederick Georgia (chemistry), and Josef and Anni Albers (art). Poet Charles Olson was an important teacher in the 1950s.[3]

Visiting faculty during the summer terms included dancer Merce Cunningham; composer John Cage; painters Jacob Lawrence, Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline, and Ben Shahn; photographers Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind; critics Clement Greenberg, Paul Goodman and Alfred Kazin; architects Walter Gropius and Buckminster Fuller; poets Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan and Hilda Morley; and potters Marguerite Wildenhain and Shoji Hamada.[3]

Many students became very well-known in the 1950s and later. They included sculptor Ruth Asawa; artists Ray Johnson, Kenneth Noland, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, and Robert De Niro Sr.; and filmmaker Arthur Penn, poet John Wieners, and writer Francine du Plessix Gray.[3]

The college closed after 24 years in 1957 because of money problems.[3]


  1. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
  2. "Black Mountain College: A Brief Introduction". Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Retrieved 2023-02-22.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Fortini, Amanda (2022-07-07). "Why Are We Still Talking About Black Mountain College?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-02-22.

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