Dancing around Duchamp, Cage, Cunningham, Rauschenberg and Johns

Posted January 7th, 2013 under Contemporary Art, Dance, Shows

A major season exploring the work of Marcel Duchamp, his precursors, collaborators and the artists he influenced across music, dance, theatre, film and art is coming up at the barbican in London.

Exploring one of the most important chapters in the history of contemporary art, “The Bride and the Bachelors: Duchamp with Cage, Cunningham, Rauschenberg and Johns” (14 February 2013 – 9 June 2013) focuses on Marcel Duchamp ’s American legacy, tracing his relationship to four great modern masters – composer, John Cage, choreographer, Merce Cunningham, and visual artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.

Encountering Duchamp and his work in the early stages of their careers, each of the younger artists embraced key elements of his ideas and practice, resulting in a seismic shift in the direction of art in the 1950s and ‘60s. Characterised by the integration of art and life, the work of Cage, Cunningham, Rauschenberg and Johns heralded the advent of Pop Art.

The Bride and the Bachelors features around 90 works, some by Rauschenberg and Johns are being shown in the UK for the first time. The selection reflects the artists’ multiple levels of engagement across the disciplines of art, dance, and music.

Leading contemporary artist Philippe Parreno has devised a dynamic experiential staging of the exhibition inspired by the choreography of Cunningham and music of Cage, featuring two Yamaha Disklavier pianos playing live Cage scores, while the ‘ghost’ of the dancers can be heard pounding the floor. The soundscape is also punctuated by Parreno’s own interpretation of Cage’s famous 4’ 33”.

Live dance ‘Events’ are performed on Thursday evenings and weekends throughout the duration of the exhibition by students and graduates from London Contemporary Dance School and dancers from Richard Alston Dance Company.

At The Guardian: “Marcel Duchamp’s gift to New York - At the tail end of the 1960s, four giants of the New York avant-garde fell under the spell of the great French artist Marcel Duchamp. The results caused shockwaves. In the runup to a new Barbican exhibition, Judith Mackrell marvels at an explosion of creativity.

In February 1968, the avant-garde legend Marcel Duchamp hosted an informal dinner in New York for a group of local artists. Among them were composer John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham and the painter Jasper Johns – who, that night, was working up the courage to ask Duchamp a favour. He wanted to create a set design for a Cunningham dance that would use images from Duchamp’s 1923 work The Large Glass (also known as The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even).” Read on…

Marcel Duchamp – Documentary with English subs