Making Art Dance:
Backdrops and Costumes from
the Armitage Foundation


January 11 – March 13, 2015

Curated by Jeffrey Deitch, the exhibition features sets and costumes created throughout the past thirty years by Armitage in collaboration with esteemed artists and designers including Jean Paul Gaultier, Jeff Koons, Christian Lacroix, David Salle, Peter Speliopoulos, and Philip Taaffe


Presented in the Mana Glass Gallery, Making Art Dance highlights the versatility and originality that fueled Armitage’s radical approach to contemporary ballet. The exhibition focuses on three distinct, chronological periods of her aesthetic life: Punk, Picture, and Poetry. More than a dozen backdrops will be installed in the 50,000-square-foot space, including Salle’s plum-hued scenery for The Elizabethan Phrasing of the Late Albert Ayler (1986) and graffiti-like set for Contempt (1989), which is complemented by an incredible inflatable pig by Koons. Costumes from Ne (1978), designed by Christian Marclay while he was still a student at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design; Life Story (1999), premiered by Albert Evans and Wendy Whelan; and The Mollino Room (1985), premiered by Mikhail Baryshnikov, Leslie Browne, and Ricardo Bustamante; will also be on view. Sketches of costumes by fashion designer Peter Speliopoulos and Armitage’s work for Italian ballet troupe MaggioDanza provide further insight into the creative process.

Armitage sent shockwaves across the dance world when she coupled classical ballet with rock music in the 1980s. Famously nicknamed the “punk ballerina” by Vanity Fair, her work is characterized by striking originality, exemplary technique, and outlandish provocation. Having danced for both George Balanchine and Merce Cunningham in her professional career, Armitage gained acute, direct knowledge from two masters of 20th-century American dance—aesthetics she used to develop her own voice within the dichotomy of classical and modern dance. By showcasing the remarkable sets and costumes created for Armitage productions, Making Art Dance calls attention to a significant, unique art–dance partnership that has played a critical role in her work’s endurance and success.