glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
social sciences
special features
about glbtq


   member name
   Forgot Your Password?  
Not a Member Yet?  

  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy






Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

Cunningham, Merce (1919-2009)  
page: 1  2  

Insisting that his dances are not psychological or in any way "about" him, he eschewed an overtly political stance in favor of a collaborative model that may be said to represent a queering of the creative process. The creative artist is removed from the center of the artistic endeavor. All hierarchies are dismantled and all alternatives are considered equal.

Cunningham's relationship with Cage endured for 54 years, until Cage's death in 1992. The personal and professional collaboration between the two men made them role models for several generations of gay men and lesbians.

Now recognized as a seminal figure in twentieth-century American culture, Merce Cunningham received numerous prestigious awards and honors, including the National Medal of Arts and membership in the American Academy and the Institute of Arts and Letters.

Active until the very end of his long life, Cunningham gradually relinquished day-to-day management of his dance company. On July 26, 2009, he died peacefully in his sleep in his Manhattan home.

Jeffery Byrd

  <previous page   page: 1  2    

Contact Us
Join the Discussion
Related Entries
More Entries by this contributor
A Bibliography on this Topic

Citation Information
More Entries about The Arts

   Related Entries
arts >> Overview:  Ballet

The enduring and persistent connection between ballet and male homosexuality is undeniable and may be related to the art's remarkably masculine provenance.

arts >> Overview:  Dance

Artistic dance has proven to be a haven for glbtq people, who have made significant contributions in almost every area, including as choreographers, performers, and teachers.

arts >> Overview:  Performance Art

Performance art has been embraced by queer artists as a means of challenging the very idea of traditional in art and culture.

arts >> Overview:  Set and Costume Design

Set and costume design for stage and film are fields that have attracted a large number of talented gay men and lesbians.

arts >> Cage, John

The music of controversial American composer John Cage contains little autobiographical or gay content, but his ironic emphasis on the importance of silence in music may comment on the imposed silence of the closet.

arts >> Duchamp, Marcel

One of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, Marcel Duchamp desired to break down all linguistic, sexual, and social restraints.

arts >> Goode, Joe

The most original contribution of the work of choreographer Joe Goode, which frequently confronts issues of being gay in the age of AIDS, is its challenge to traditional assumptions involving gender.

arts >> Johns, Jasper

Known for his iconic yet cryptic paintings, acclaimed American artist Jasper Johns is a key figure in the transition from Modernism to Post-Modernism.

arts >> Miller, Tim

Performance artist Tim Miller presents shows that are rooted in his own life experiences, but that are also a powerful form of glbtq activism.

arts >> Rauschenberg, Robert

One of the most prolific and innovative artists of the late twentieth century, Robert Rauschenberg was at the core of a group of interdisciplinary artists who revolutionized American art.

arts >> Sekula, Sonja

Swiss-born artist Sonja Sekula created small-scale abstract images with profound emotional power.


Banes, Sally, intro. Art Performs Life: Merce Cunningham/Meredith Monk/ Bill T. Jones. Philippe Verge, Siri Engberg, and Kelli Jones, eds. Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 1998.

Cunningham, Merce. The Dancer and the Dance: Conversations with Jacqueline Lesschaeve. New York: Marion Boyars, 1985.

Fitzpatrick, Laurie. "Merce Cunningham, 1919- ." Gay and Lesbian Biography. Michael J. Tyrkus, ed. Detroit: St. James Press, 1997. 139-140.

Jordan, John Bryce. "Cunningham, Merce (1919- )." Gay Histories and Cultures. George E. Haggerty, ed. New York: Garland, 2000. 231-232.

Sylvester, David, et al. Cage, Cunningham, Johns: Dancers on a Plane. New York: Knopf, 1990.


    Citation Information
    Author: Byrd, Jeffery  
    Entry Title: Cunningham, Merce  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated July 28, 2009  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  


This Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc. is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.