Curatorial Document

Robert Rauschenberg, contact sheet of portraits of Merce Cunningham, 1953

Part of Rauschenberg Research Project Home

  • Robert Rauschenberg, contact sheet of portraits of Merce Cunningham, 1953

    Robert Rauschenberg, contact sheet of portraits of Merce Cunningham, ca. 1953, printed ca. 1980. Robert Rauschenberg Foundation; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

  • View of Robert Rauschenberg's Merce with signature and inscription visible

    View of Robert Rauschenbergs Merce (1953) with the artist's signature and a studio inscription visible below the photograph

  • Merce

    Robert Rauschenberg, Merce, Thu Jan 01 12:00:00 PST 1953; gelatin silver print, 14 15/16 in. x 15 1/16 in. (37.94 cm x 38.26 cm); Purchase; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY


In 1953, Rauschenberg photographed Merce Cunningham (1919–2009) dancing alone, as part of a duo, and in a group at Cunninghams 224 West Fourth Street studio in New York. Cunningham had officially established his dance company during the summer of 1953, and he found this studio space later that year, upon his return to New York from Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Rauschenberg captures five solo views of Cunningham, exhibiting his strength, grace, and flexibility. Other company dancers seen in the group photographs include Viola Farber (1931–1988) and Remy Charlip (1929–2012).