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Graphic: How Art and Modern Dance Mixed in Manhattan

Following up on Merel van Beeren’s investigation into the future of Merce Cunningham‘s Studio after its founder’s death, we bring you a graphic history of the intersection of visual art and modern dance. From Cunningham collaborating with John Cage, his life partner, and Robert Rauschenberg, to sculptor Isamu Noguchi’s work with Martha Graham, it’s all here.

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Compiled by van Beeren and designed by our staff, the graphic shows the personalities and events that defined modern dance in Manhattan. Below, check out a list of links that flesh out the collaborations and collisions between the worlds of modern art and modern dance.

  • Here’s an overview of Robert Rauschenberg’s dance collaborations by Alastair Macaulay, notably referencing the artist’s work with Trisha Brown as well as the touring designer of the Cunningham Repertory group. Rauschenberg was at the “forefront of architects of theater,” he writes.
  • Judith Mackrell has an interview with Cunningham about the process of working with these artists, focusing on Cunningham’s commitment to giving his set designers free reign. At times, though, the sheer obstinacy of artist-designed props proved too much for the dance company. One of Rauschenberg’s designs wasn’t fireproof enough to be on stage while while a bank of fans designed by Bruce Nauman proved heavy and tough to ship.
  • Macaulay has another review of Cunningham’s work on display at Dia: Beacon, an event that had five different performances going on on one stage simultaneously. Talk about risk taking.
  • Here’s a piece by Babette Mangolte, who recorded Trisha Brown’s SoHo “Roof Piece” (1971). Seeing the process behind documenting such a complex piece (it occurred over blocks of NYC roof tops) is fascinating.
  • Did you know Rauschenberg actually did some choreography himself? On roller skates? With a parachute? Pretty awesome. Greg.org has the report, plus a video.
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