REMEMBERING JOHN CAGE

 

 Merce Cunningham, with photography from James Klosty

At the piano at Westbeth

 

He was a man with a mind which was constantly alert to almost everything around him. Very–sharp tongued is wrong–but very bright. He worked constantly….Constantly composing or doing art work or answering letters, or writing books. It was simply what he did. And he may have said things that sounded as though he didn’t do anything, but he was constantly at something. Patient? Not entirely. No.

Playing chess in Belgrade, 1972

 

Mostly he was, I guess, patient–patiently he would listen to people–and make some remarks. Sometimes those were very funny. He liked talking with people who were interesting. It didn’t make any difference whether they were osteopaths or whatever, it didn’t make a difference. If it’s someone who had an interesting mind, he’d want to know what that person’s mind was like. I think he was just open, wasn’t so much learning as absorbing.

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CHOREOGRAPHER AMONG THE PAINTERS

“Dance is a visual art.” Merce Cunningham

PARIS–

AT THE BEAUBOURG

Robert Rauschenberg: Express 

IN THIS grey scale canvas we see images surrounding the dancers of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.


Images of what? Racehorses with jockeys; men rappelling down a cliff; some harmonious and beautiful naked bodies; something that looks like a an underwater creature or perhaps the human brain; a city on the water, with piers reaching out from the shores; and to the lower right, an end to war: Grant and Lee at the conclusion of the Civil War that rent the United States. E pluribus unum. In the equilibrium of the canvas, these disparate items are unified as the product  of an original mind. A singular mind.

You can see the images as an assemblage of unlike elements co-existing,  and you can see the dancers among them representing  beauty–and grace itself. Tilting at gravity, they embody the ability to fly through the air under one’s own power. 

Or, you can see  the dancers apart–find them to be a beautiful refuge, as art can be, from the world and its various clamors. They draw your eye, and into the canvas you fall, and all the rest is left behind. Outside. You’re in here. Inside the painting, or inside the dance.

 

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