Taken between 1935 and 1940, the images Barbara Morgan published in Martha Graham: Sixteen Dances in Photographs (1941) remain among the most iconic in dance and performance history. Each image conveys Martha Graham’s and Barbara Morgan’s respective attention to gesture, light, composition, line, and visual narrative. Suspended Gestures brings together five of Morgan’s photographs from the collection.
Suspended Gestures – A Photo History Collaboration between Martha Graham and Barbara Morgan
When Martha Graham and Barbara Morgan met in 1935, they formed an immediate connection. They valued each other’s artistry, courage, and savvy negotiation of the male-dominated spheres of American art and dance. Morgan’s photographs of the Martha Graham Dance Company captured the art and innovation of Graham’s contributions to modern dance. They are instrumental documents that allow researchers and dancers to re-create her pioneering choreography.
On March 10, Artist-in-Residence in Dance, Erica Dankmeyer, and Williams students will re-stage Martha Graham’s Celebration (1934). The iconic ring-dance from the ballet is depicted in one of the five images included in the exhibition. This performance highlights dance and photography as vital mediums for analyzing and remembering the past. Sam Gilliam’s Situation VI-Pisces 4 (1972), in the adjoining gallery, serves as the painterly environment for the performance, putting Graham, Gilliam, and Morgan— three innovators of line, composition, and gesture— in dialogue.