You might wonder why I'm acknowledging the passing of Merce Cunningham, a groundbreaking choreographer, here, on a visual arts blog.
Well, aside from the fact that Cunningham was one of the boldest artists in any medium, probably ever, he was a seminal figure in what we now take for granted as the glorious post-conceptual free-for-all that is the art world of today. Along with John Cage and Robert Rauschenburg at Black Mountain College, Cunningham helped reframe the notion of artistic expression, bringing conceptual, experimental, performative work into the realm of dance -- and vice versa. Along with Cage, who was his life partner until his death in 1992, Cunningham's penchant for cross-fertilization between dance and art resulted in formal associations with Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, as well as innumurable collaborations with such artists as Tacita Dean, Rei Kawakubo, Roy Lichtenstein, Bruce Nauman, Ernesto Neto, Frank Stella, Benedetta Tagliabue, and Andy Warhol, to name a few.
He's one of the true innovators in our recent cultural history, a sort of hub that allowed new visions of what art actually is to be formed and enacted, and he'll be missed.