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.
From the Quarterly
Fairs, Events & Announcements
A Quiet Evening of Dance
October 4–6, 2018
Sadler’s Wells, London
For this fresh configuration of new and existing work, William Forsythe has imagined something akin to an evening of chamber music, designed to be listened to. The works range from sparse analytic condensation to baroque-inspired counterpoint. The intricate phrasing of the dancers’ breath is the primary accompaniment for a distillation of the geometric origins of classical ballet. To attend the event, purchase tickets at sadlerswells.com.
Photo: Dorothea Tuch
NY Art Book Fair
September 21–23, 2018, project space room, booth S202
MoMA PS1, New York
Gagosian is participating in the NY Art Book Fair 2018 with a special project space conceived in collaboration with choreographer William Forsythe, exploring visual and notational approaches to dance and movement. Forsythe is a radical innovator in choreography and dance who has redefined the very syntax and praxis of his field. In the course of his singular career spanning five decades, 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.
At the NYABF, printed materials and videos by Forsythe are featured alongside selected Gagosian publications, as well as additional books and ephemera that reveal Forsythe’s wide-ranging influences and interests including Chris Burden, Katharina Grosse, Richard Serra, Cy Twombly, and Rachel Whiteread.
William Forsythe, Lectures from Improvisation Technologies, 2011, performed by William Forsythe © William Forsythe
October 31, 2018–February 24, 2019
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, presents the first comprehensive American exhibition of performative objects, video installations, and interactive sculptures of William Forsythe. Since the 1990s, parallel to his stage productions, Forsythe has developed installations, sculptures, and films that he calls Choreographic Objects. Blurring the lines between performance, sculpture, and installation, these works invite the viewer to engage with the fundamental ideas of choreography. The exhibition features large-scale installations, including several works developed for the ICA.
William Forsythe, Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time No. 2, 2013 © William Forsythe. Photo: Dominik Mentzos
William Forsythe in
June 1–September 23, 2018
Middelheimmuseum, Antwerp, Belgium
In this exhibition sixteen contemporary artists who have found inspiration in the innovative ideas behind the baroque landscape try to guide our physical and mental experience. William Forsythe, a contributing artist and cocurator, has incorporated some of his well-known choreographic objects into the project to entice visitors to move around.
William Forsythe, Debut, 2018 © William Forsythe. Photo: Tom Cornille
William Forsythe in
September 29, 2017–January 7, 2018
Tartu Art Museum, Estonia
Museum Choreography is made up of works that explore the art museum context through the means of dance and choreography. The exhibited works put the audience at the center of attention by emphasizing that the museum is an environment created by people with their daily presence. Work by William Forsythe is included.
William Forsythe, Towards the Diagnostic Gaze I, 2013 © William Forsythe. Photo by Dominik Mentzos
William Forsythe × Ryoji Ikeda
Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time No. 2
December 1–31, 2017
La Villette, Grande Halle, Paris
During the Festival d’automne William Forsythe will participate in the collaborative project William Forsythe × Ryoji Ikeda at La Villette’s Grande Halle with Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time No. 2. This immense installation is a field of moving pendulums through which visitors are invited to move at will. In doing so, they generate an infinite range of individual choreographies.
William Forsythe, Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time No. 2, 2013 © William Forsythe. Photo by Dominik Mentzos