Merce Cunningham I (F. & S. II.124) is a signed screen print on Japanese gift wrapping paper made by the renowned Pop artist, Andy Warhol, in 1974. Coming in an edition size of 100 the print shows Merce Philip Cunningham standing side-on at a slanted angle with a chair behind his back. Cunningham was a famous American dancer and choreographer and is remembered for being at the forefront of American modern dance for over 50 years. Cunningham’s figure is printed against flowery wrapping paper which makes this print stand out from many of Warhol’s other depictions of stars and celebrities which tend to be set against backdrops of bold blocks of colour.
Merce Cunningham I (F. & S. II.124) was published in a portfolio of artworks, Cunningham I, which contained works made by seven artists. The portfolio was published in order to raise funds for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in New York.
The intriguing pose Warhol captures in this print highlights Cunningham’s athletic prowess and the lightness and elegance of his dance movements. There is a stillness to the pose, despite it eliciting motion, which imbues the print with an air of mystery.