Vestiges of Merce Cunningham’s dance find home at Walker

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Antic Meet, 1958

Costumes designed by Robert Rauschenberg

Dance is an ephemeral art… it exists in the doing. But some things are left behind: costumes, set pieces, music scores, props. And in the case of Merce Cunningham’s dances, those costumes and sets were often made by high profile contemporary artists.

Today the Walker Art Center and Cunninham Dance Foundation announced that the Minneapolis museum is acquiring more than 150 objects that were part of Cunningham’s performances. Starting in November, the Walker will display the work, including creations by such artists as Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, John Cage, and Frank Stella. This exhibition coincides with Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s final

engagement at the Walker, to be presented November 4 – 6, 2011, as part of the Company’s farewell Legacy Tour. Merce Cunningham died in 2009.

“The acquisition of these works is groundbreaking for the Walker and for the museum field at large, affirming our longstanding commitment to bringing together diverse artistic practices to form a cross-disciplinary blend of programs,” said Walker Executive Director Olga Viso in a written release. “We enjoyed a lasting relationship with Cunningham beginning in the early 1960s and look forward to inspiring future generations with programs, exhibitions, and new scholarship devoted to his legacy of innovation and collaboration.”

The announcement was made to coincide with the New York Times annual museum section, which includes a piece on the acquisition.

“The interplay of the visual and performing arts has a long and rich history,

but few artists rival Cunningham in his sustained collaborations with leading

figures of the 20th century,” said Walker Chief Curator Darsie Alexander.

“With this acquisition, we acknowledge his tremendous contributions as a

dancer and choreographer, while at the same time giving our audiences the

opportunity to see the work of acclaimed artists–Rauschenberg, Johns,

Lichtenstein, Stella–in a completely different light.”

The acquisition is a gift made possible by numerous donors and foundations, as well as the T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 2011.

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