MIKHAIL BARYSHNIKOV: BODY METAPHYSICS

12.10.2016 - 22.01. 2017

The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography presents the exhibition MIKHAIL BARYSHNIKOV: BODY METAPHYSICS by the American photographer Robert Whitman. This exhibition includes approximately sixty images of the Soviet-American dancer and choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov, recognized as one of the greatest ballet dancers of the XX century, and will premiere in Moscow this October.

Mikhail Baryshnikov. Exercise series, late 1990s

The exhibition features Robert Whitman and Mikhail Baryshnikov’s five artistic encounters from 1995 to 2015 that turned into five photographic series. Whatever the occasion, Whitmancaptures Baryshnikov’s magnificent grace, charisma and style, which were admired by poetJoseph Brodsky among others. In Solomon Volkov’sConversations with Joseph Brodsky the poet points out: “I must say, when I see Baryshnikov on stage, it’s a stunning sensation. I even think that it’s not really even balletthat he is doing… In my opinion, it’s pure body metaphysics, something that has burst from the framework of ballet”. Both Brodsky and Baryshnikov left Russia for the USA in the 1970s and became lifelong friends.

The earliest series featured at the exhibition is Baryshnikov’s Perfume campaign shoot (1995). The series reveals the artistic and comedic talent of the ballet dancer and the photographer’s deep insight into his model. Whitman tries on Baryshnikov a number of different images: elegant, lively and sensual – all of them being absolutelynatural to the dancer. Baryshnikov invites Robert Whitman again to photograph the 10thanniversary of his Center (Baryshnikov Art Center) in New York.This latest series at the exhibition (2015), commissioned by AS IF Magazine, shows a mature dancer much more static and serious, but no less impressive. The exhibition also features contact sheets of all series, revealing the back stage shooting process.

Mikhail Baryshnikov looks especially concentrated under the direction of the American master choreographer Merce Cunningham (Misha and Merce series, 1999). This unique record of their rehearsal of the play Occasion Pieceisa kind of pas de deux of two great ballet masters, who were captured again by Robert Whitman. Shooting of Baryshnikov’s every-day exercises and rehearsal of Solo With Piano or Notwith the company of the American Ballet Theatre (2002) are among other documentary series at the exhibition. Robert Whitman makes a suggestion about the success of their cooperation: “I thinkMisha likes my style. I always work on my own, just me and my camera. I never have assistants or sets. I always use natural light.”

Robert Whitman is famous for shooting for leading world magazines and advertising agencies:Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Men’s health, Women's health, Travel and Leisure, BBDO, McCANN ERICKSON, as well as for his street scenes of New York and sessions with Mikhail Baryshnikov and the musician Prince. The photographer’s guided tour is planned within the framework of the exhibition.