Abraham Walkowitz (1878-1965) Isadora Duncan and the Dance

July 25, 2005 - September 10, 2005

Selected Artworks · Press Release

Abraham Walkowitz
Abstraction,  n.d.
ink wash on paper
6-3/4 x 5-1/4 inches
Abraham Walkowitz: Isadora Duncan and the Dance
A selection of Abraham Walkowitz (1878-1965) watercolors of the famed American dancer Isadora Duncan (1878-1927) will be on view at Zabriskie Gallery from July 25 through September 10, 2005. Walkowitz met Isadora Duncan in the sculptor Auguste Rodin’s studio during a trip to France in 1906. After their introduction, Walkowitz watched her nature-inspired dance at a private salon, which significantly influenced the artist and led him to create numerous renderings of her. As few documentary photographs exist of Duncan, Walkowitz’s drawings are considered the most comprehensive record that capture her essential dance movements and style. These works were executed from memory and are principally in watercolor, others are in ink or pastel. The installation creates a cinema-like animation of the dancer’s free-form choreography.

About Duncan, Walkowitz recalled “She was a Muse. She had no laws. She didn’t dance according to rules. She created. She was like music. When she moved it was like the sound of violins, she was the Walt Whitman of women.” Utilizing minimal line, the artist evokes the energy of the dancer and records her expressive body gestures. Walkowitz captured the natural contour lines of her dance in quick studies which were used to produce much more dynamic and less studied poses.

Dancing bare-feet free with fluid action, Duncan is credited with initiating modern dance. Known for her costumes, bare feet and loose hair, Duncan allowed dancing to celebrate the simplicity and aesthetic of the ancient world of Athens. Duncan’s unusual tunics and scarves, which she fashioned herself and wore as typical dress, were based on the classical Greek sculpture and artwork that she had seen in the Louvre and the British Museum.

The kinetic action of Duncan’s dance is mirrored in Walkowitz’s geometric abstractions and cityscapes for which is widely known. A group of these works are also on view. Here the dancing lines and symphonic titles mirror Duncan’s flowing movements.

Walkowitz, who studied at the Cooper Union, the Educational Alliance in New York City and the National Academy of Design, was affiliated with the Stieglitz circle and the 291 gallery. Zabriskie Gallery represents the Abraham Walkowitz estate.