Interview with Ati Gropius Johansson

Ati Gropius Johansson was the adopted daughter of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius and Ise Gropius. Together with her parents, Ati emigrated 1937 to the United States. In 1943, at the age of 16, her father sent her to Black Mountain College because of the art school’s progressive education. Finishing the “reform school” at 21, she moved to Boston, Rome, Chicago and Colorado before settling to New York with her second husband, the architect John M. Johansson. Ati worked as a children’s book illustrator and a teacher of modern design.  She died on the 7th of September, 2014, at her home in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. In the interview Ati speaks about how she ended up at Black Mountain College, how she learned to love it and how she was inspired by Josef Albers and his design classes.


These videos by Sigrid Pawelke are part of a long-term research project on the early performances at Black Mountain College foreshadowing the first happening by John Cage in 1952. Sigrid Pawelke is Professor for performance and art history at the School of Visual Arts in Aix-en-Provence and the author of «Influences of the Bauhaus stage in the USA» (Roderer Verlag 2005). She interviewed 16 former BMC students including the choreographers Anna Halprin and Yvonne Rainer. The research and the videos lead eventually to reenactments and a better understanding of the links between the Bauhaus and the performative experiments at Black Mountain College.