This small and beautifully illustrated book showcases the work of two great American modernists, painter Abraham Walkowitz and dancer Isadora Duncan. Born in the same year (1878), both artists influenced the development of modern art in the early twentieth century by blending figurative gesture with abstraction. Duncan grew up in a free-spirited and artistic household in California and then moved to Europe. Walkowitz immigrated to the United States from Russia when he was a child and lived most of his life in New York City, where he studied at Cooper Union School and the National Academy of Design.
Walkowitz and Duncan met in 1906 in Paris at the studio of the sculptor Auguste Rodin. Deeply impressed by Duncan’s musicality and expressivity, Walkowitz drew thousands of images of Duncan dancing throughout his life. Because Walkowitz’s renderings of Duncan were produced quickly, they carry an element of improvisational vitality that matches the dynamic energy of her presence onstage. In her introductory essay, author Ann Cooper Albright weaves literary theory, art criticism, and dance history into a fluid narrative to explore how Walkowitz’s drawings realize Duncan’s dancing on paper. Modern Gestures reproduces over fifty watercolors of this unique oeuvre, many of which have never before been published. A perfect gift, this sumptuous little volume will provide hours of enjoyment to anyone interested in dance or modern art.