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Dance Works I: Merce Cunningham / Robert Rauschenberg

The extraordinary partnership between two legendary artists is the foundation for this installation of backdrops, props, and costumes created for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC). Merce Cunningham (1919–2009) and Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), who repeatedly reshaped dance and visual art during their lengthy careers, collaborated on over 20 dance works between 1954 and 1964, a key period for both. Dance Works I features enormous curtains painted by Rauschenberg for one of Cunningham’s dance pieces that frame other rarely seen works he made for the stage, including large-scale sculptural objects that lend new perspective to his famous “combines” of the 1950s.

Over more than 60 years, Cunningham not only expanded the parameters of dance but also transformed the role of the visual arts within them. The choreographer developed relationships based on free-thinking experimentation and exchange with numerous leading artists, often bringing them into the sphere of dance for the first time. Dance Works I showcases one of the richest examples of this collaborative approach, inaugurating a series of exhibitions exploring Cunningham’s work with visual artists and drawing from the Walker’s 2011 acquisition of more than 150 works from the MCDC archive.

Curator: Darsie Alexander