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An aesthetic and social history of art and dance in mid-20th-century New York interpreted by contemporary artist Nick Mauss

Over the past decade, Nick Mauss (b. 1980) has pursued a hybrid mode of working that melds the roles of curator, artist, and scholar. Following his highly acclaimed 2018 Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition Transmissions, this volume elaborates on the artist's complex portrait of mid-century New York as seen through the prism of modernist ballet. By pairing installation views of the exhibition and photographs of its daily performances by Paula Court and Ken Okiishi with reproductions of artworks, ballet programs, and fashion magazines, Transmissions animates the vividly enmeshed social and artistic networks that shaped both modern art and modern ballet. Through his emphasis on the collaborations and intimacies between models, dancers, photographers, choreographers, painters, sculptors, filmmakers, publishers, critics, amateurs, and devotees, Mauss re-calibrates the standard narrative of American modernism to locate performance, spectatorship, and the eroticized body at its center.

Transmissions features reproductions of documents and artworks--a number published here for the first time--by Paul Cadmus, George Platt Lynes, Dorothea Tanning, Carl Van Vechten, Isamu Noguchi, Pavel Tchelitchew, Walker Evans, Ilse Bing, PaJaMa, Man Ray, Maya Deren, Marcel Duchamp, Elie Nadelman, Eugene Berman, Peter Hujar, and many more. Additional texts address the subjects of ballet and the body, Mauss's work as an artist and curator, and performance within museum spaces, while an extensive conversation with the sixteen dancers who participated in the Whitney exhibition brings rare insight into the labor of making performance-based work while negotiating diverging legacies of embodiment.

Distributed for the Whitney Museum of American Art and Dancing Foxes Press

Publication Date: 
March 31, 2020