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Walker Center Acquires Merce Cunningham Dance Group Costumes and Décor

Forget tutus and tulle. For Merce Cunningham, dance was a collaborative, artistic effort that extended into the realms of architecture, design and even Chinese philosophy.

Cunningham moved to New York in 1939 and founded the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 1953, at a time when the city's arts scene featured legendary movers and shakers like Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg.

This week, the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis announced it had purchased 150 costumes, set pieces and backdrops created by New York artists including Rauschenberg, Warhol and Jasper Johns. The works were made for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company over the course of Cunningham's 70-year career.

Check out a slideshow of selected costumes and sets that New York artists created for Merce Cunningham Dance Company that are headed to Minneapolis below.

"Minutiae" against the backdrop of Rauschenberg's work of the same name in 1954. This is one of the earliest and largest freestanding multimedia combines he created.
"Minutiae" against the backdrop of Rauschenberg's work of the same name in 1954. This is one of the earliest and largest freestanding multimedia combines he created. ( Photo by Herb Migdall, 1976, courtesy Cunningham Dance Foundation )
In 1958, the company performed "Antic Meet" with costumes and décor by Robert Rauschenberg.
In 1958, the company performed "Antic Meet" with costumes and décor by Robert Rauschenberg. ( Courtesy Cunningham Dane Foundation )
"Walkaround Time," performed in 1968. The set was designed by Jasper Johns but was inspired by Marcel Duchamp's "The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even."
"Walkaround Time," performed in 1968. The set was designed by Jasper Johns but was inspired by Marcel Duchamp's "The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even." ( Photo by Oscar Bailey, courtesy Cunningham Dance Foundation )
The company performed "Rainforest" in 1968 against the backdrop of Andy Warhol's installation "Silver Clouds."
The company performed "Rainforest" in 1968 against the backdrop of Andy Warhol's installation "Silver Clouds." ( Courtesy Tony Dougherty )
In 2000, company dancers Andrea Weber, Daniel Roberts, Jonah Bokaer performed Cunningham's "Interscape." The costumes and backdrop were designed by Rauschenberg.
In 2000, company dancers Andrea Weber, Daniel Roberts, Jonah Bokaer performed Cunningham's "Interscape." The costumes and backdrop were designed by Rauschenberg.


( Courtesy Tony Dougherty )
The company staged "Scenario" in 1997 with costumes by Rei Kawakubo.
The company staged "Scenario" in 1997 with costumes by Rei Kawakubo. ( Photo by Icare/Moatti, courtesy Cunningham Dance Foundation )
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