Yvonne Rainer

Yvonne Rainer

Fellow: Awarded 1969
Field of Study: Choreography
Fellow: Awarded 1988
Field of Study: Choreography

Competition: US & Canada

Yvonne Rainer was born in San Francisco in 1934.  She trained as a modern dancer in New York from 1957 and began to choreograph her own work in 1960.  She was one of the founders of the Judson Dance Theater in 1962, the genesis of a movement that proved to be a vital force in modern dance in the following decades.  Between 1962 and 1975, she presented her choreography throughout the United States and Europe, notably on Bradway in 1969, in Scandinavia, London, Germany, and Italy between 1964 and 1072, and at the Festival d’Automne in Paris in 1972.  In 1968 she began to integrate short films into her live performances, and by 1975 she had made a complete transition to filmmaking.

In 2000 and 2001, Ms. Rainer returned to dance via commissions from the Baryshnikov Dance Foundation to choreograph work for the White Oak Dance Project, including a 35-minute piece called After Many a Summer Dies the Swan. These works were performed throughout the U.S. and Europe.  Since then she has choreographed AG Indexical, with a little help from H.M. (2006) and RoS Indexical (2007).  Both dances were presented in New York, Kassel, Berlin, and Vienna.

In 1972 she completed a first feature-length film, Lives of Performers.  Six features have followed: Film about a Woman Who . . .  (1974), Kristina Talking Pictures (1976), Journeys from Berlin/1971 (1980; coproduced with the British Film Institute and winner of the Special Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics’ Association), The Man Who Envied Women (1985),  Privilege (1990; winner of the Filmmakers’ Trophy at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival, and the Geyer Werke Prize at the 1991 International Documentary Film Festival in Munich), and MURDER and murder (1996; winner of the Teddy Award at the 1997 Berlin Film Festival and "Special Jury Award" at the 1999 Miami Lesbian and Gay Film Festival).

All of Yvonne Rainer’s films have been shown extensively in the U.S. and elsewhere, including the Whitney Museum and  the Musuem of Modern Art in New York City, the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., National Film Theatre in London, the Centre de Beaubourg in Paris, and Josei University in Japan. They have also been screened semi-theatrically at the Bleecker Street and Carnegie Hall cinemas in New York, NuArt in Los Angeles, the Roxy in San Francisco, and Brattle in Boston, and at major film festivals in London, Montreux, Toronto, Edinburgh, Locarno, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Sydney, Sundance, Hongkong, and Capetown, among many others.

Her installations have been included in group exhibitions in the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Vienna Kunsthalle.  A solo exhibition orginated at the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, University of the Arts, Philadelphia (19 October to 30 November 2002). It comprised new video and slide installations plus a retrospective of vintage photos, posters, manuscripts, notebooks, as well as five short films from the 1960s and clips from dances and feature-length films.  The exhibition subsequently traveled to the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), the Haggerty Museum at Marquette University, and the Carpenter Center at Harvard University, where it won "Best Monographic Show in an Institutional/University Gallery" from the International Association of Art Critics.

Among her many other honors are seven NEA Fellowships, six New York State Council for the Arts Fellowships, three Fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.  Her two Guggenheim Fellowships were awarded in different areas: she recieved her first, in 1969, in choreography, and her second, in 1988, in filmmaking. She received the James D. Phelan Award in Filmmaking in 1990, the Dorothy Arzner Certificate of Recognition, Women in Film, in 1992, the Wexner Prize and an award from the American Film Institute in 1995, and New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie) in 2000.  In 2004 the Women’s Caucus for Art recognized her with its National Lifetime Achievement Award.  She was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2007.

Ms. Rainer has taught at the New School for Social Research, Goddard College, Connecticut College, Bard College, George Washington University, Vancouver Art Gallery, School of Visual Arts, the Santa Cruz, Fresno, and San Diego campuses of the University of California, San Francisco Art Institute, California Institute of the Arts, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, New York University, Yale University, Columbia University, Simon Frazier University, Danish Academy of Art, and the Carpenter Center of Harvard University.  She taught in the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program from 1974 to 2005, and is currently a Distinguished Professor of Studio Art at the University of California, Irvine.

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