Merce Cunningham, one of the great representatives of American dance, "son" of Martha Graham and father of all others, died in his sleep at his residence at the age of 90 on 26 last July leaving a great sorrow in the field not only of the dance, but also of the art.
"He revolutionized the visual arts and performance, with no iconoclastic intent, but for the beauty and wonder that comes from exploring new possibilities," is what is written in the press release announcing his death, Cunningham Dance Foundation and Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
Martha Graham's prodigy student, he stood out from an early age as a male performer of extraordinary expressive power and athletic power in the choreographer's great company. When he left Graham, he began his own freelance career as an interpreter and creator, establishing from the beginning a close relationship with John Cage, musician and theorist, who also greatly influenced the history of the artist. # 39; s.
De Cage, Merce Cunningham notably inspired methods of random compositions (based on the selection of composition materials made by chance), methods that characterize his work through his own career.
The collaboration between these two talents began in 1942 and was stuck until the death of the musician in 1992, calling into question the formal methods of the art of the nineteenth century, already rejected by Marcel Duchamp.
The extraordinary strength of Cunningham lies in a strong dose of improvement combined with a rigid formalism. For this reason, VideoArt pioneer Nam June Paik said that "Merce seems to be wandering on the scene with no specific purpose, but with great aesthetic sense." The choreographic movements of Cunningham come from the daily gesture, the error of the moment, and do not adapt, but they rather face the soundtrack of the music. The American choreographer has assigned the role of performer to his dancers. They are free to slow down and speed up the movements, go out or stage themselves, choose the sequence of choreographic phrases to perform.
Thanks to his talent, Cunningham leaves an "indelible mark on our creativity and collective culture," writes the statement released by his two foundations. Working with Cage, his partner forever, he has designed a new way of perceiving and living the world. "Merce was an artistic Maverik and the most delicious genius.We lost a great man and a great artist, but we will celebrate his extraordinary life, his art, the dancers and artists with whom he worked," said Judith Fishman, President of Cunningham Dance Foundation.
Eminent figure of the American avant-garde, the genius and talent of Cunningham had repercussions beyond the field of dance. His talent extends well beyond choreography through a constant collaboration with artists from various disciplines: musicians John Cage and David Tudor, fashion designer Romeo Gigli and architect Benedetta Tagliabue. Merce Cunningham had a very significant influence on the visual art of the 40s and 50s, establishing fruitful collaborative relationships with some of the great protagonists of contemporary American art, from Robert Rauschemberg to Andy Warhol, to Frank Stella to Jasper Johns, but also Bruce Nauman.
In April 2009, the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York hosted the choreographer's latest work with the explicitly self-biography Early Ninety. The Cunningham Dance Company, composed of 14 dancers, will perform in a two-year world tour dedicated to the grandfather of postmodern dance, after which it will close forever.