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Dancing around the Bride:
Cage, Cunningham, Johns, Rauschenberg, and Duchamp
October 30, 2012–January 21, 2013
Throughout the three-month period of the major exhibition Dancing around the Bride: Cage, Cunningham, Johns, Rauschenberg, and Duchamp, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will present a rich array of highly anticipated public programs. The schedule will include live performances in the galleries by former members of the renowned Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC), reunited for the first time in a major project since its disbanding at the end of 2011; Cage: Beyond Silence, a citywide festival celebrating the centenary of composer John Cage, presented in conjunction with Philadelphia performing arts group Bowerbird; and two Art After 5 evening programs dedicated to the exhibition. There will also be a series of conversations programmed to provide a unique perspective on these artists, including a discussion between noted contemporary artist Paul Chan and Calvin Tomkins, the acclaimed New Yorker writer who has written famously about the intersecting lives of these historical figures. A film series, featuring both never and rarely seen archival footage from the 1950s and 1960s, including a newly restored version of Walkaround Time created specifically for the exhibition by filmmaker Charles Atlas, will offer an inside look at these artists both individually and together in collaboration.
About Dancing around the Bride
Dancing around the Bride explores the interwoven lives, works, and experimental spirit of Marcel Duchamp and four of the most important American postwar artists: John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg. Encountering each other’s work in the 1950s in New York City, these artists shared an intensive engagement propelled by a common interest in probing the boundaries between art and life. Radically reimagining the notion of traditional beauty, developing new models of artistic collaboration, and using chance as a means of art making, these artists created works that both integrate and blur the distinctions between the visual arts, music, and dance and continue to inspire and define contemporary art today.
Dancing around the Bride assembles over one hundred paintings, sculptures, drawings, stage sets, and manuscripts in the Dorrance Galleries in four thematic sections—The Bride, Chance, The Main Stage, and Chess—and includes live dance and music performances, as well as artistic interventions by contemporary artist Philippe Parreno. The exhibition’s title references Duchamp’s figure of the Bride—a landmark 1912 painting and a protagonist in his enigmatic masterpiece The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) (1915–23), which inspired many works by Cage, Cunningham, Johns, and Rauschenberg.The exhibition continues in Modern and Contemporary Art Galleries 179–183.
Amidst the visual works of Johns, Rauschenberg, and Duchamp, the sounds of Cage’s compositions and Cunningham’s choreography will be experienced as an integral component of the exhibition in a gallery titled The Main Stage. Composed of forty-minute Events as well as solos, duets, trios, quartets, and quintets, the dance program provides a kaleidoscopic experience of Cunningham’s 65-year career. The longer Events have been described as dance versions of Duchamp’s readymades as a cast of the die determines which readymade sections of Cunningham’s repertory appear and in what order.
Daniel Squire—former MCDC dancer of eleven years and the curator of the dance program—has arranged these performances to draw from several of Cunningham’s collaborations with Duchamp, Johns, Cage, and Rauschenberg, such as Suite for Five, Aeon, Interscape, XOVER, and RainForest.
Cage: Beyond Silence
Presented by Bowerbird in conjunction with the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Taking place at the Museum and venues across the city of Philadelphia, Cage: Beyond Silence will unfold in three parts. Beginning with an introduction to Cage’s music and focusing on seminal works from his early career, the festival will continue with his Song Books from the mid-1970s and will end with a series of musical encounters exploring the artist’s Number Pieces composed late in his lifetime. Acclaimed musicians such as Joan La Barbara, Margaret Leng Tan, Christian Wolff, Keith Rowe, and Pauline Oliveros and groups like Philadelphia’s Network for New Music and Curtis Ensemble 20/21 will perform Cage’s work as part of the festival program.
Art After 5
The Museum’s Friday evening series, Art After 5, will offer two related programs. Among them is Chess Music for the Moving Image (on November 30), which addresses the collision of chance, collaboration, and chess, a game that assumes a metaphorical significance in Dancing around the Bride. The evening will include an interactive musical and dance performance wherein the sounds and movements will be generated by a chess game played by the audience.
Dancing around the Bride exhibition curator and the Museum’s Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Curator of Contemporary Art Carlos Basualdo will host lively conversations with distinguished writers and artists who will share their perspectives on the artists represented in the exhibition. The first is a conversation with Italian artist—and close friend of Duchamp—Gianfranco Baruchello, who will discuss Duchamp’s impact in his life and work. The New Yorker’s Calvin Tomkins and contemporary artist Paul Chan will also discuss their new book, which features Tomkins’s previously unpublished 1964 interviews with Duchamp. Together they will refresh our understanding of Duchamp’s role in shaping the art of our time.
The Museum has developed a film series, sited in the Van Pelt Auditorium, that will feature both rarely seen archival footage and never-before-shown films such as Walkaround Time in a new, 2012 restored version made for the occasion by the film’s director, Charles Atlas, as well as films on the life and work of Marcel Duchamp drawn largely from the Museum’s Archives. The program will also include films on John Cage and Merce Cunningham that elucidate the work of these artists in depth. The Museum is also planning to invite speakers to introduce screenings on select evenings to enliven the content and talk with the public. Members of the Dancing around the Bride curatorial staff will be on hand to introduce films and give further context for the films.
For a complete a schedule of Dancing around the Bride public programs at the Museum, visit www.philamuseum.org/bride. For information on the Cage festival, visit cagebeyondsilence.com.
A book produced to accompany the exhibition will include an introduction by Basualdo and Erica F. Battle, Project Curatorial Assistant; a new essay by Calvin Tomkins; an anthology of selected articles, critical essays, and interviews that map the artists’ relationships, selected by Reinaldo Laddaga, musician and Associate Professor of Romance Languages at the University of Pennsylvania; and the first extensive chronology detailing the lives and interactions of all five artists by Paul B. Franklin, Editor in Chief of the annual journal Étant donné Marcel Duchamp. The 432-page book, designed in a slipcase edition by Takaaki Matsumoto, will be copublished by the Museum and Yale University Press (ISBN: 978-0-87633-242-9 [PMA]; 978-0-300-18925-4 [Yale]; Trim: 9"x7",107 duotones and 108 color illustrations; Price: $55.00).
The exhibition is made possible by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative. Additional support is generously provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Glenstone, The Presser Foundation, the Dedalus Foundation, The Robert Saligman Charitable Foundation, Dr. Sankey V. Williams and Constance H. Williams, Dina and Jerry Wind, John Wind, Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, Christie’s, Mary S. and Anthony B. Creamer, Jaimie and David Field, Lawrence Luhring and Roland Augustine, Seda International Packaging Group, Mari and Peter Shaw, Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Levine, Alice Saligman and Klaus Brinkmann, and other generous individuals. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
Support for the accompanying publication is generously provided by Larry Gagosian.
Special thanks to The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Philadelphia Music Project, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Dina and Jerry Wind, and John J. Medveckis for their support of the festival Cage: Beyond Silence.
Yamaha Disklavier Pianos courtesy of Jacobs Music Company and Yamaha Corporation of America. In-kind support for the exhibition is provided courtesy of Pilar Corrias, London, and the Leo Katz Collection, Bogotá, Colombia.
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