Autograph Love Letter Signed to Carlos Dyer - 1938
Scarce, fresh to market love letter written by American choreographer and brilliant modern dance maven Martha Graham, to her paramour, the artist Carlos Dyer. Dated December 1938, written in her florid cursive on personal stationery—accompanied by original mailing envelope postmarked New York, Christmas Eve, 1938—Graham writes of the depths of her feelings in vividly poetic phrases:
This is a holy time — so ancient
that it still lives.
The earth turns — our agelessness remembers —
and we smile.
And touch a deep gong into life —
I would kneel with you at this timeless festival.
I would drink with you.
So float one instant in the surge of the eternal —
In one incredible simple instant
Elevate the host —
The God lives —
Not just Carlos —
Not just Martha —
So I kneel with you —
Carlos I love you.
Martha Graham (1894-1991) was an American modern dancer and choreographer whose influence on dance has been compared with the influence Picasso had on the modern visual arts, Stravinsky had on music, or Frank Lloyd Wright had on architecture. She danced and choreographed for over seventy years. Graham was the first dancer to perform at the White House, travel abroad as a cultural ambassador, and receive the highest civilian award of the US: the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In her lifetime she received honors ranging from the Key to the City of Paris to Japan’s Imperial Order of the Precious Crown. She said, in the 1994 documentary The Dancer Revealed, “I have spent all my life with dance and being a dancer. It’s permitting life to use you in a very intense way. Sometimes it is not pleasant. Sometimes it is fearful. But nevertheless it is inevitable.” Her style, the Graham technique, fundamentally reshaped American dance and is still taught worldwide.
ABOUT CARLOS DYER
Born in Springfield, Missouri in 1917, Carlos Dyer grew up in Southern California, where he was influenced by high school teachers to nurture his artistic abilities. During the Depression in the 1930s Carlos worked for the WPA, the largest and most ambitious New Deal American infrastructure program that gave hope to millions of unemployed people, including major artistic and literacy projects. Among those he worked on in his youth, at least one still remains today: a massive 22′ x 44′ prized mural at Woodrow Wilson High School circa 1938, entitled “Democratic Education.”
Having mutual friends in the art world—among them Ramiel McGehee, Merle Armitrage, Lincoln Kirstein, Monroe Wheeler, and Edward Steichen—Carlos eventually met Martha Graham, with whom he had a relationship for several years, and during which these letters were exchanged. Just prior to enlisting in World War II, Dyer married one of Graham’s company dancers, Charlotte Trowbridge, and after the war taught at various esteemed art colleges and institutes. His works have been shown in the Museum of Modern Art in NY, the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Collection, and other prominent venues. Carlos Dyer passed away on May 23, 2016 at the age of 99.