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Dancing Around Duchamp - Barbican

Nude Descending a Staircase No 2

Season preview

AS WELL as Dancing Around Duchamp, the Barbican’s Spring 2013 programme line-up includes Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet, Michel van der Aa and David Mitchell, Bobby McFerrin, Juan Diego Flórez and Deborah Colker.

Dancing Around Duchamp, a major multi-disciplinary season of unmissable events across visual art, dance, theatre, film and music, runs from February to June 2013.

It brings together key figures of the avant-garde with a shared Dadaist or absurdist sensibility who changed the course of 20th-century art: Samuel Beckett, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Marcel Duchamp, Eugène Ionesco, Alfred Jarry, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, along with a host of contemporary practitioners who continue their radical legacy.

Showcasing work by different generations of artists and performers – precursors, collaborators and artists either inspired by or with a clear affinity to Duchamp’s work – the season allows audiences to explore the many threads that connect them and to journey among the absurd, the subversive, the provocative and the darkly humorous.

The season orbits around the legendary figure of Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) and the Art Gallery’s major new exhibition The Bride and the Bachelors: Duchamp with Cage, Cunningham, Rauschenberg and Johns organised by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in association with the Barbican Art Gallery.

Duchamp is often cited as being the father of conceptual art. Exactly 100 years ago his Nude Descending a Staircase No 2 caused an uproar at the New York Armory Show of 1913; while his ideas began to crystallise for what was to become his most celebrated work, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass); and he created his first so-called ‘readymade’ – a bicycle wheel mounted on a stool – in his Paris studio.

Bringing together twenty works by Duchamp including these seminal pieces, The Bride and the Bachelors explores how his work fuelled historic collaborations between four great American contemporary artists – composer John Cage (1912–1992); dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham (1919–2009) and visual artists Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008) and Jasper Johns (born 1930).

Encountering Duchamp at an early stage in their own careers, each of them embraced key aspects of Duchamp’s thinking and practice, creating a seismic shift in the direction of art from the late 1950s and 1960s onwards.

Dancing Around Duchamp‘s rich programme includes Robert Wilson’s theatrical interpretation of John Cage’s 1959 Lecture on Nothing, surreal and absurdist theatre with plays by Jarry and Ionesco and an adaptation of Beckett’s novella Watt, a film season that takes a cue from Duchamp’s Dadaist sensibility, live performances of Cage and Cunningham pieces in the gallery space, a new Curve project by Canadian artist Geoffrey Farmer and a major public event exploring the legacy of Duchamp.

Dancing Around Duchamp Programme

Rhinocéros by Eugène Ionesco – February 14 to February 16, 2013 (Barbican Theatre).

Robert Wilson: John Cage’s Lecture on Nothing – February 25 (Barbican Theatre).

Watt by Samuel Beckett – February 26 to March 16 (The Pit).

Rambert Dance Company performing RainForest by Merce Cunningham – March 27.

Cheek by Jowl’s Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry – April 10 to April 20 (Silk Street Theatre).

Richard Alston Dance Company performing Merce Cunningham repertoire – May 29 (Barbican Art Gallery).

Geoffrey Farmer New commission – Spring 2013 (dates tba) (The Curve).

The Film Season, Talks and Debates have yet to be announced.