William Forsythe is a radical innovator in choreography and dance. For more than four decades, he has redefined the syntax and praxis of his field, exerting unparalleled influence on subsequent generations of artists. Over the course of his career, he has developed an extensive repertoire of groundbreaking ballet choreographies and experimental, non-proscenium-based dance-theater works, as well as an open-access digital platform for dance analysis, notation, and improvisation. His works are featured in the repertoire of many of the world’s major ballet companies, including Paris Opera Ballet; Mariinsky Ballet, Saint Petersburg; Semperoper Ballet, Dresden, Germany; Royal Ballet, London; New York City Ballet; San Francisco Ballet; Boston Ballet; and the National Ballet of Canada. Parallel with the evolution of his choreographic performances, Forsythe has worked for more than twenty years on installations, film works, and discrete, interactive sculptures, which he calls “choreographic objects.”
Forsythe was born in 1949 in New York. He was resident choreographer of the Stuttgart Ballet, Germany, from 1976 to 1984, and director of Ballet Frankfurt, Germany, from 1984 to 2004. He established and directed the Forsythe Company from 2005 to 2015, and was most recently artistic advisor to the Paris Opera. He was named an honorary fellow of the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance in London and holds an honorary doctorate from the Juilliard School in New York. Solo museum exhibitions include Proliferation and Perfect Disorder, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2006); Additive Inverse, 21_21 Design Sight, Tokyo (2007); Focus on Forsythe, Sadler’s Wells and Tate Modern, London (2009); Transfigurations, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2009); Nowhere and Everywhere, Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany (2013); The Fact of Matter, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany (2015); and Wanås Konst, Knislinge, Sweden (2017). Beginning in 1989 with a special commission by architect Daniel Libeskind, The Books of Groningen, Forsythe has produced numerous installations, among them Tight Roaring Circle, Artangel, London (1997); Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time, Creative Time, New York (2005); and Black Flags, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Germany (2014–15). He has participated in the Whitney Biennial (1997); Biennale di Venezia, Venice (2005, 2009, 2012, 2014); and Sydney Biennale (2016).
Forsythe has received several awards, including the title of Commander of the French Order of Arts and Letters (1999); Hessische Kulturpreis/Hessian Culture Prize (1995); German Distinguished Service Cross (1997); Wexner Prize (2002); Golden Lion of the Biennale di Venezia (2010); Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement (2012); and Grand Prix de la SACD (2016).
Forsythe lives and works in Vermont.
The Barre Project (Blake Works II)
Thursday, March 25, and Saturday, March 27, 2021, 8pm EDT
During the pandemic William Forsythe, New York City Ballet principal dancer Tiler Peck, and online arts education platform CLI Studios came together to create a ballet performance coordinated completely via Zoom. Inspired by dancers worldwide who were unable to access formal classes but committed to sustaining themselves and their art, The Barre Project consists of five musical episodes that focus on the most primary feature of ballet training: barre. Each premiere will have live introductions and question-and-answer sessions with Forsythe and Peck. To watch the performance, register at go.clistudios.com.
William Forsythe, The Barre Project (Blake Works II), 2021, performed by (left to right) Brooklyn Mack, Tiler Peck, Lex Ishimoto, and Roman Mejia
Alternate Meanings in Film and Video
You’re only as young as the last time you changed your mind.
Gagosian is pleased to present Broadcast: Alternate Meanings in Film and Video, an online exhibition of artists’ films and videos viewable exclusively on gagosian.com. The exhibition will be organized into a series of “chapters,” each lasting two weeks. The first chapter begins on Tuesday, May 19, 2020.
Broadcast: Alternate Meanings in Film and Video employs the innate immediacy of time-based art to spark reflection on the here and now, taking the words of famed psychologist and countercultural icon Timothy Leary as its starting point.
Adam McEwen, Escape from New York, 2014 (still from “Battery Tunnel”) © Adam McEwen
Dhaka Art Summit
February 7–15, 2020
Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka
William Forsythe and Ellen Gallagher are participating in Dhaka Art Summit 2020: Seismic Movements. Over nine days, five hundred artists, scholars, curators, and thinkers will join in panel discussions, performances, and symposia addressing the theme: “What is a movement and how do we ignite one beyond the confines of an art exhibition?” The event is free and open to the public.
Edgar Cleijne and Ellen Gallagher, Osedax, 2010 (still) © Edgar Cleijne and Ellen Gallagher
Opening this Week
The Sense of Things
April 23–May 24, 2021
William Forsythe’s The Sense of Things is the first artistic intervention in the Kunsthaus Zürich’s new museum building, designed by David Chipperfield. In Forsythe’s acoustic work, deconsecrated church bells of different sizes, pitches, and timbres are activated in a contrapuntal composition that emanates across the new extension, encouraging visitors to build a direct relationship with the architecture by observing how the sounds change as they move through the space.
William Forsythe, The Sense of Things, 2021 (detail) © William Forsythe. Photo: © Franca Candrian, Kunsthaus Zürich
William Forsythe in
The Time of Work
March 14–May 10, 2020
Z33 Kunstcentrum, Hasselt, Belgium
In the group exhibition The Time of Work, artists direct the visitor’s gaze around the building. The artistic interventions aim to enhance, challenge, and question Z33’s architecture. Work by William Forsythe is included.
William Forsythe, Unsustainables, 2019 (detail), installation view, SESC Pompéia, São Paulo © William Forsythe. Photo: Ricardo Ferreira
William Forsythe in
February 2–April 26, 2020
Frac Franche-Comté, Besançon, France
Performance artists have long made their own bodies works of art, and choreographers often borrow from the field of contemporary art. Dancing Machines questions the way in which performance art and choreography interact and explores how these artists represent and show the body today. Work by William Forsythe is included.
William Forsythe, Doing and Undergoing, 2016/2020, installation view, Dancing Machines, Frac Franche-Comté, Besançon, France © William Forsythe
William Forsythe in
December 7, 2019–April 26, 2020
Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia
Water invites visitors to explore the vital element, which sustains all forms of life on earth. From immersive experiences to smaller-scale treasures, the exhibition highlights the importance of water and aims to spark conversations about the environmental and social challenges we face today. Work by William Forsythe is included.
William Forsythe, The Fact of Matter, 2009 © William Forsythe. Photo: Liza Voll