Diary Entry

Merce Cunningham

Published in the Foundation for Contemporary Arts 2010 Grants Booklet

Merce Cunningham began keeping a daily diary in the early 1970s and continued this practice to his dying day. His entries were mostly confined to a single page-at first by chance, later quite intentionally-and, from the late 1990s, each included a small and often quite fanciful full-color sketch of a mammal, a bird or a fish, usually something he had found of interest that day in one of the many natural history magazines to which he subscribed. Collectively, these diaries chronicle an astonishing life-at times quite personal, at other times not so, but always elucidating as to the funny, tragic and heroic peregrinations of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

The page included here is from December 10, 1998, one of the fortunate occasions Merce was able to attend the annual Foundation for Contemporary Arts grants reception. "FCPA" refers to the Foundation's earlier name, Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts. "JC" refers to Merce's lifelong partner (and Foundation co-founder), John Cage, and "JC prize," to the biennial John Cage Award, instituted shortly after Cage's death.

It's the FCPA evening at Jennifer Bartlett's studio on Charles, for giving prizes - 6:30 - 8:30. Includes music of JC by Irvine Arditti + Stephen Drury, + Earle Brown receives the $50,000 JC prize. Paul Kaiser receives an award; others too, of whom I'm not aware. That Foundation began so many years ago to help us, is now an important source for young artists.