"Mexican" chair for Black Mountain College, Black Mountain, North Carolina

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"Mexican" chair for Black Mountain College, Black Mountain, North Carolina

circa 1940
Furnishings; Furniture
Ash, original leather, brass
27 1/4 × 17 5/8 × 25 in. (69.2 × 44.8 × 63.5 cm)
Gift of the 2020 Decorative Arts and Design Acquisitions Committee (DA²) in memory of Peter Loughrey, with additional support from Alison and Geoffrey Edelstein, Suzanne Kayne, and Alice and Nahum Lainer. (M.2020.17)
Currently on public view:
Broad Contemporary Art Museum, floor 3

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Label

In 1933 after the Nazis closed the Bauhaus, the German art and design school where Josef and Anni Albers taught, they moved to North Carolina, where they were the first faculty to teach at Black Mount...
In 1933 after the Nazis closed the Bauhaus, the German art and design school where Josef and Anni Albers taught, they moved to North Carolina, where they were the first faculty to teach at Black Mountain College—a progressive liberal arts school founded the same year. The Alberses, like many artists at the time, often traveled to Mexico. This butaque chair, a vernacular furniture form in Mexico for centuries, is a colonial-era hybrid of Spanish folding chairs and Indigenous ritual seating.

Albers learned about this form from Cuban-born Clara Porset, a former student of his at Black Mountain who became a leading designer in mid-century Mexico. While visiting her, Albers would make the detailed studies of Maya, Aztec, and Zapotec archeological sites that profoundly influenced his work. He designed this version of the butaque for student dormitories at Black Mountain; this particular example was a gift to his close friend Theodore Dreier, a founder of the college, and his wife Barbara.

Wall label, 2021.
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