Choreographer and dancer Michael Clark may have begun his career as a notorious rebel in the Royal Ballet School in the 1970s, but today he is one of the most lauded artists in the dance world, having created works to music by David Bowie, collaborated with Alexander McQueen and performed at Glastonbury and New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art.
What makes Clark’s company so special is how it crosses beyond the confines of the dance world into art and popular culture, and in another example of this boundary breaking, he is now joining forces with Sotheby’s to curate a four-day exhibition of contemporary art from April 8-11 that will be followed by an auction of the featured works on April 12.
Part of Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated series, the show reflects the strong influence contemporary art has had on Clark’s work. The choreographer – who has been an artistic associate at the Barbican in London since 2005 and collaborated with Peter Doig, Charles Atlas and Leigh Bowery – shared a house with Sarah Lucas during her YBA years, and even spent some time as her assistant. “I saw her working on a daily basis, and just living with objects that she was working on would challenge me in new ways,” he says.
It was Lucas who coaxed Clark back into choreography after a personal crisis led to a four-year break in the late 1990s, collaborating with him on Before and After: The Fall in 2001, and Clark has included Lucas’s Ones Knob (estimate £10,000-£15,000), a sculptural work made from cigarettes and beer cans, in his Sotheby’s show.
It will be exhibited alongside a figurative bronze, Zhizni (£3,000-£5,000), by Rebecca Warren and a monochrome text piece, Brazil Kalmar Text (£12,000-£18,000), by Liam Gillick. Works by international artists also feature, including Sigmar Polke’s humorous drawing of a businessman kicking a football, Untitled (£3,000-£4,000), three pop studies (£10,000-£35,000) by Tom Wesselmann, and a set of abstract paintings, Untitled 743/87, by Günther Förg that is expected to be the most expensive lot at the auction, with an estimate of £100,000-£150,000.
Clark says he was initially daunted by curating, but his instinctual approach is what makes this rare glimpse into his aesthetic influences so exciting. “To be a good dancer you have to be very focused – you don’t often see what is going on outside of your bubble,” he explains. “I became aware there was this other world beyond dance, and the artists I have collaborated with have made me re-examine my methods, look at things differently.”
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