Philadelphia Museum of Art opens Dancing Around the Bride Cage, Cunningham, Johns, Rauschenberg, and Duchamp

Philadelphia Museum of Art opens Dancing Around the Bride Cage, Cunningham, Johns, Rauschenberg, and Duchamp, an exhibition on view October 30, 2012–January 21, 2013.

Dancer Carolyn Brown in Walkaround Time, 1968. Choreography by Merce Cunningham. Stage set and costumes by Jasper Johns. Photograph © 1972 by James Klosty.

Examining one of the most important chapters in the history of contemporary art, Dancing around the Bride is the first exhibition to explore Marcel Duchamp’s American legacy by tracing his interactions and exchanges with four postwar masters: composer John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham, and visual artists Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. The exhibition will feature over one hundred works, including more than sixty by Johns and Rauschenberg and more than forty by Duchamp, as well as prerecorded and live music by John Cage and live performances of choreographies by Merce Cunningham. Many of these works will be seen together for the first time and reflect the artists’ multiple levels of engagement across the disciplines of art, dance, and music.

“As the Philadelphia Museum of Art holds the world’s largest and most significant collection of works by Marcel Duchamp, it is only fitting for the Museum to present this first exhibition juxtaposing works by Cage, Cunningham, Johns, and Rauschenberg with one another and exploring their complex and vitally important relationship to Duchamp,” says Timothy Rub, the Museum’s George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer. “This multidimensional and interdisciplinary show will enable visitors to experience and more fully appreciate one of the most exciting and momentous periods in the history of modern art.”

Setting the direction for many subsequent developments in contemporary art, Duchamp famously questioned the very definition of art, probing the distinction between art and life, turning to chance rather than fixed ideas about taste and aesthetics, and utilizing everyday objects not only in the creation of his work, but as objects of art themselves. Encountering Duchamp and his work at various moments during the early stages of their development, Cage, Cunningham, Johns, and Rauschenberg each embraced key aspects of Duchamp’s ideas and artistic practices and, by doing so, reinvigorated Duchamp’s own reception in the United States from the 1960s onward. The exhibition will highlight formative moments such as Johns and Rauschenberg’s 1958 visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) (1915–23), one of the Museum’s greatest masterpieces and the source for this exhibition’s title.

In addition, the curators are collaborating with French artist Philippe Parreno, who is responsible for the exhibition’s mise en scène, or its visual and spatial organization. Parreno—whose own film and installation work examines conditions of looking, temporality, and sequence—will work with the curators and exhibition design team to establish a timed sequence of audio elements, including Cage’s music and other sounds, and lighting as well as contribute artistic interventions that speak to the fruitful intersection of art, life, and experience.

As part of a full range of public programs, the Museum is planning a series of live dance performances in collaboration with the Merce Cunningham Trust and former Cunningham dancer Daniel Squire. Periodic performances will animate the exhibition space, which will have a large dance floor at the center of its “Main Stage” section. Visitors will therefore have an unprecedented opportunity to experience Cunningham’s choreographies in direct relationship to the art of Johns, Rauschenberg, and Duchamp, and accompanied by Cage’s music.

Dancing around the Bride, organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, will debut in Philadelphia and then travel to the Barbican Centre in London, where it will be on view February 14–June 9, 2013.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19130