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Dancer and choreographer Martha Graham is hailed as a profound and influential force in the development of American modern dance — an understanding that is sure to be enhanced by this week’s announcement that the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has acquired the archive of the legendary dancer. According to a press release from the Martha Graham Dance Company today, what would have been Graham’s 126th birthday, the multimedia collection contains films of Graham at the peak of her career, as wells as photographs, choreographic notations, correspondence, and other historical materials. Graham’s career in dance spanned seven decades, and her company, founded in 1926, is in its 94th year — making it the oldest dance company in the United States.
“Martha Graham is a giant in the American cultural landscape,” said Linda Murray, Curator of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at the Library for the Performing Arts, in the press release. “Her codification of the philosophical ideals of modern dance created a new mode of expression that still underpins the training of dancers across the globe today. The Jerome Robbins Dance Division houses the collections of Graham’s teachers, peers and acolytes so we are incredibly excited to add the archive of the Graham Company to our holdings. With this addition the Division’s collections now present an extensive understanding of the history of American modern dance and we look forward to sharing these treasures with dance artists, students and scholars for generations to come.”
According to the New York Times, Genevieve Oswald, the founder of the library’s dance division, had talked to Graham about acquiring the archive many times, but the choreographer had “always sort of laughed and demurred,” said Murray. The library will process and catalog the Martha Graham archive over the next two years. It will then be available to users in the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in Lincoln Center. Highlights of the collection include Isamu Noguchi’s set drawings for Seraphic Dialogue, complete with handwritten notes by the famous sculptor, as well as an extensive photograph collection of Graham’s canon by photographers like Barbara Morgan and Soichi Sunami.
The Graham collection is an exciting catch for the library, taken in conversation with the archives of many of those dancers inspired and intertwined with Graham’s legacy, including those of contemporaries Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman, dancers in her company including Graham’s mentors and teachers Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, contemporaries Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman, dancers in her company including Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, and Jean Erdman, and countless others who sought her out as a collaborator, such as Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rudolf Nureyev.
It’s been said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, but for a form as fleeting as dance, an archive is worth a thousand chassés. Current fans and future enthusiasts will surely flock to the archive, once it becomes available, to continue to learn about a woman whose contribution to modern dance constitutes an entire movement.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
In 1850, when Dr. Robert W. Gibbes commissioned J. T. Zealy to make daguerreotypes of persons held in slavery in and around Columbia, South Carolina, for Harvard Professor Louis Agassiz to use in support of his theory that African people were a separate species, daguerreotypes were at the height of fashion.
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.