Merce Cunningham. Space Chart Entrance and Exit. Drawing for the dance Suite by Chance. 1952

Merce Cunningham Space Chart Entrance and Exit. Drawing for the dance Suite by Chance 1952

  • Not on view

This page is from Cunningham’s dance Suite by Chance, created the same year as the premiere of Cage’s 4’33”. Lifelong collaborators in art and life, Cage and Cunningham frequently allowed their respective music and dance compositions to intersect.

In the early 1950s, Cunningham was inspired by Cage to add an element of unpredictability to his work by following chance operations, such as the flipping of a coin, to choreograph the body’s movements. Cunningham noted, “Suite by Chance is exactly what the title says. . . . In applying chance to space I saw the possibility of multidirection. Rather than thinking in one direction, i.e. to the audience in a proscenium frame, direction could be four–sided and up and down.” Christian Wolff—credited for introducing Cage to Zen Buddhism—composed a score for magnetic tape to accompany Suite by Chance, making it an early dance piece incorporating electronic music.

Gallery label from There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33”, October 12, 2013–June 22, 2014.
Ballpoint pen and pencil on colored graph paper
7 x 7" (17.8 x 17.8 cm)
The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection Gift (purchase, and gift, in part, of The Eileen and Michael Cohen Collection)
Object number
© 2021 Merce Cunningham
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