Merce Cunningham: Common Time

Images

  • The black-and-white image captures a cluster of seven dancers holding poses against an empty background, with a strong light coming from the left.
Composite image featuring Merce Cunningham Dance Company performing Anniversary Event during the exhibition of Olafur Eliasson’s The Weather Project, Tate Modern, London, November 2003. Photo: Gigi Giannella; and still of Event for Television, 1977, with Frank Stella, Décor for Scramble, 1967. Video (color, sound), 56 min. Directed by Merrill Brockway. Courtesy of WNET-TV New York Archives. Décor © 2016 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
The black-and-white image captures a cluster of seven dancers holding poses against an empty background, with a strong light coming from the left.
Merce Cunningham Dance Company performing Canfield, 1970. Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, New York. Image © James Klosty, courtesy of James Klosty.
Installation view, Dance Works III: Merce Cunningham and Rei Kawakubo
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2011
. Photo: Gene Pittman.
Installation view, décor for Views on Stage, 2004, in Dance Works II: Merce Cunningham/Ernesto Neto, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2012. Photo: Gene Pittman.
Jasper Johns, Set elements for Walkaround Time, 1968. Collection Walker Art Center, T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 2000.
Charles Atlas, MC9, 2012. Nine-channel synchronized video work with sound, 18 minutes; edition of 3, aside from 2 artist’s proofs. Installation view, “BMW Tate Live: Charles Atlas and Collaborators,” 2013, The Tanks, Tate Modern. Photo: Gabrielle Fonseca Johnson for Tate Photography, © Charles Atlas & Tate.

About

Merce Cunningham: Common Time is a major retrospective exhibition organized by the Walker Art Center that is appearing simultaneously at the Walker and the MCA. Merce Cunningham (American, 1919–2009) was a seminal figure in modern dance, revolutionizing performance through his choreography and world-renowned dance company and through partnerships with leading artists, who created costumes, lighting, and set designs for his company’s performances. The exhibition showcases Cunningham’s multidisciplinary projects, exploring, as Cunningham described, the “underlying principle that music and dance and art could be separate entities independent and interdependent, sharing a common time.”

Performance backdrops, documentary video and video installations, sets, costumes, artworks, photographs, and ephemera immerse viewers in Cunningham’s creative activities. The exhibition highlights partnerships with artists including lifelong collaborator John Cage as well as Black Mountain colleagues Jasper Johns and, Robert Rauschenberg and other major figures, including Frank Stella, Robert Morris, and Bruce Nauman, who were greatly influenced in the development of their visual styles by Cunningham’s ideas. Special features include a presentation of Andy Warhol’s Rainforest, which includes his famous helium-filled silver balloons, and Charles Atlas’s MC9, which will fill one of the MCA barrel vault galleries with 35 years of clips from Cunningham pieces in a dazzling audio-visual realization. It also features a series of new commissions by former members of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and the Ballet de Lorraine.

The exhibition is organized by the Walker Art Center’s Artistic Director Fionn Meade and Director and Senior Curator of Performing Arts Philip Bither, with Joan Rothfuss and Mary Coyne. It is overseen at the MCA by Curator Lynne Warren.

The exhibition is presented in the Griffin Galleries of Contemporary Art on the museum’s fourth floor.

Installation Images

Installation view, Merce Cunningham: Common Time, MCA Chicago, Feb 11–Apr 30, 2017. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Merce Cunningham: Common Time, MCA Chicago, Feb 11–Apr 30, 2017. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Merce Cunningham: Common Time, MCA Chicago, Feb 11–Apr 30, 2017. Work shown: Frank Stella, Décor for Scramble, 1967. Aluminum, colored canvas covers, wood, and steel; 198 × 278 × 40 in. Walker Art Center, Merce Cunningham Dance Company Collection, Gift of Jay F. Ecklund, the Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation, Agnes Gund, Russell Cowles and Josine Peters, the Hayes Fund of HRK Foundation, Dorothy Lichtenstein, MAHADH Fund of HRK Foundation, Goodale Family Foundation, Marion Stroud Swingle, David Teiger, Kathleen Fluegel, Barbara G. Pine, and the T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 2011. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Merce Cunningham: Common Time, MCA Chicago, Feb 11–Apr 30, 2017. Work shown: Charles Atlas, MC9, 2012. 9-channel synchronized video installation. Courtesy Luhring Augustine, New York, and Charles Atlas. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Merce Cunningham: Common Time, MCA Chicago, Feb 11–Apr 30, 2017. Work shown: Charles Atlas, MC9, 2012. 9-channel synchronized video installation. Courtesy Luhring Augustine, New York, and Charles Atlas. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Merce Cunningham: Common Time, MCA Chicago, Feb 11–Apr 30, 2017. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Merce Cunningham: Common Time, MCA Chicago, Feb 11–Apr 30, 2017. Work shown: Nam June Paik, 66-76-89, 1990. Television cabinet, 32 video monitors, and steel; 148 × 64 × 48 in. Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 1990. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Merce Cunningham: Common Time, MCA Chicago, Feb 11–Apr 30, 2017. Work shown: Ernesto Neto, otheranimal, décor for Views on Stage, c. 2005. Nylon, polypropylene pellets, rice, glass beads, and plastic pellets; 18 × 20 × 20 ft. Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, gift of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, 2012. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Merce Cunningham: Common Time, MCA Chicago, Feb 11–Apr 30, 2017. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Merce Cunningham: Common Time, MCA Chicago, Feb 11–Apr 30, 2017. Work shown: Rei Kawakubo, costumes for Scenario, 1997. Padded skirts, shirts, tank tops, pants, shorts, dresses, and hot pants. Walker Art Center, Merce Cunningham Dance Company Collection, gift of Jay F. Ecklund, the Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation, Agnes Gund, Russell Cowles and Josine Peters, the Hayes Fund of HRK Foundation, Dorothy Lichtenstein, MAHADH Fund of HRK Foundation, Goodale Family Foundation, Marion Stroud Swingle, David Teiger, Kathleen Fluegel, Barbara G. Pine, and the T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 2011. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

text

The artists featured in Merce Cunningham: Common Time include:

Hazel Larsen Archer
Bob Arnold
Daniel Arsham
Charles Atlas
Chad Batka
David Behrman
George Brecht
Trisha Brown
John Cage
Philip Corner
Merce Cunningham
Morton Feldman
David Freund
Philippe Halsman
Al Hansen
Deborah Hay
Toshi Ichiyanagi
Jasper Johns
Clemens Kalischer
Allan Kaprow
Stig T. Karlsson
Rei Kawakubo
Takehisa Kosugi
Shigeko Kubota
George Maciunas
Fred McDarrah
Peter Moore
Barbara Morgan
Robert Morris
Gordon Mumma
Bruce Nauman
Ernesto Neto
Isamu Noguchi
Pauline Oliveros
Yoko Ono
Mary Outten
Nam June Paik
D. A. Pennebaker
Yvonne Rainer
Robert Rauschenberg
M. C. Richards
Carolee Schneemann
Frank Stella
Elaine Summers
David Tudor
Charlotte Trowbridge
Andy Warhol
Christian Wolff

Funding

Merce Cunningham: Common Time is organized by the Walker Art Center with major support provided by the Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Generous support is also provided by Agnes Gund and the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.

Lead support for Merce Cunningham: Common Time is provided by the Harris Family Foundation in memory of Bette and Neison Harris: Caryn and King Harris, Katherine Harris, Toni and Ron Paul, Pam and Joe Szokol, Linda and Bill Friend, and Stephanie and John Harris; Cari and Michael Sacks; and Helen and Sam Zell.

Major support is provided by the Walter and Karla Goldschmidt Foundation, Abby McCormick O’Neil and D. Carroll Joynes, anonymous, and the Nancy Lauter McDougal and Alfred L. McDougal Exhibition Fund.

Additional generous support is provided by The Irving Harris Foundation, Joyce E. Chelberg, NIB Foundation, Robert Lehman Foundation, Jennifer and Alec Litowitz, and Carol Prins and John Hart/The Jessica Fund.

Special thanks to exhibition chairs, Sara Albrecht and Anne L. Kaplan.

The MCA is proud to partner with the Harris Theatre, Hubbard Street Dance, and the Joffrey Ballet.