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.
|Paul Cézanne The Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses) 1906, Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris|
Paul Cézanne :The Bathers
In the thirty-seven years I have owned this canvas, I have come to know it quite well, though not entirely I hope: it has sustained me morally in the critical venture of my moments as an artist; I have drawn from it my faith and perseverance. " Henri Matisse
Paul Cézanne on painting: "La peinture est ce qui me vaux le mieux."
Merce Cunningham on dancing: "It's what's interested me all my life."
|Merce Cunningham in "How to Pass, Fall, Kick and Run" with John Cage to the right|
I have been looking at--and living inside--this work for just about the same number of years in which Matisse looked at his painting by Cézanne. The very first dance I saw is the one in the photograph above. Then I went back to my proper girls school in New Jersey, to a world of drab gym uniforms, Latin class, and an honor code that encouraged snitching.
In the years to come, I would enter and re-enter this world in the theater--this world of Merce Cunningham--and visit and re-visit it in my mind. And go back. To the theater, to the thinking. If it rained into a lake, it reminded me of Merce.
What an amazement...!
And for the last four years I have had the adventure of watching the company at work, and capturing what I could of them--and of Merce himself--on film. That has been wonderful. But it is, it was, that work itself that filled up my eyes, gave my mind something to occupy it, to wander in.
What a luxury it has been, to live inside that art. And what a necessity. A refuge for the mind. A place to dwell amidst the traffic of the ways.I can't imagine what my life would have been without it. Or how it would have been....
|Cadaqués, Spain 1970 Merce Cunningham snorkeling ©James Klosty|