• Pat Steir. The Barnes Series V, 2018. Oil on canvas, 86 3/8 x 130 1/4 inches (219.4 x 330.8 cm). © Pat Steir. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging.

Story Apr 16, 2019 New York

Pat Steir Creates Backdrop for Merce Cunningham Centennial

A projected artwork by acclaimed Lévy Gorvy artist Pat Steir will form the backdrop for an upcoming dance performance held in honor of the late choreographer Merce Cunningham. Celebrating what would have been Cunningham’s 100th birthday, Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event will entail performances at the Barbican in London, UK, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in New York, NY, and at UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, in Los Angeles, CA. Each of the three venues will feature 25 dancers, as well as an ensemble of contemporary musicians, together performing a unique, 75-minute event that will consist of a selection of 100 solos choreographed by Cunningham. Widely considered to be one of the most important choreographers of all time, Cunningham’s approach to performance was groundbreaking in its ideological simplicity and physical complexity: he applied the idea that “a thing is just that thing” to choreography, embracing the notion that “if the dancer dances, everything is there.”

With an artistic legacy that is both painterly and theoretical, Steir’s practice has been deeply influenced by Conceptual art, French philosophy, and East Asian art and philosophy. The work of John Cage–Cunningham’s closest collaborator and life partner–has also been a significant influence on Steir’s work. The Centennial Event at BAM will see dancers perform in front of a projected set, which the artist has created specifically for this occasion. Steir was recently honored as only the second artist ever to be commissioned by the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, and in October of 2019 the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, will unveil its 2019 inner circle galleries commission–a major new suite of Steir’s Waterfall paintings, and the artist’s largest site-specific exhibition to date.

Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event takes place at BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House (Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217), April 16, 2019, at 7:30pm (EDT), BAM.org. The event will be live-streamed by the Merce Cunningham Trust.

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