Merce Cunningham died at his home in New York City on July 26, 2009, at the age of 90. He was one of the most important modern dance choreographers of the 20th century. Born near Seattle in 1919, his career spanned the postwar era: He made his first dance in 1944 and directed his own troupe, The Merce Cunningham Dance Company, for over 50 years from 1953 until his death last week. He created over 200 dances for his company, many of which are now performed by companies worldwide; he also mounted works on the New York City Ballet and the Paris Opera Ballet.
The Invisible Masterpiece By Hans Belting Translated by Helen Atkins (University of Chicago Press, 480 pp., $45) Never was there more optimistic nonsense written about abstract art than in Germany after World War II. Abstraction, many artists and critics hoped, would guide the German public back to universal spiritual ideals and reconcile them with European civilization. The Germans were discovering abstract art anew after long years of National Socialist philistinism.