By Culturekiosque Staff
STUTTGART, GERMANY, 23 JULY 2012 Composer, writer, painter,
philosopher and passionate mushroom hunter or, as Arnold Schönberg
put it, an "inventor and a genius". These are but a few attributes
accorded the controversial American artist John Cage. His concept of
silence, his use of coincidence and his involvement with
visual art revolutionised music, and influenced
heavily dance and avant-garde art of the 1950s and 1960s.
The Staatsgalerie Stuttgart celebrates the 100th birthday of John Cage
(5 September 1912 12 August 1992) with an exhibition of its
wide-ranging holdings of the artists work. Entitled Its John. John
Cage and spanning the years from 1969 to 1990, the exhibition shows
twenty-three prints, two drawings, one object (Plexigram) and
four rarely seen books as well as a comprehensive selection of documentary
material from the Sohm Archive. The title of the show is taken from a
series of photographs in the Sohm Archive.
Dick Higgins: Idea for a promotion brochure for
Notations (detail), 1968
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Archiv
Photo: © Estate of Dick Higgins 2012
The presentation is complemented by a selection of compositions by the
artist which can be heard at an audio station in the exhibition and in a
series of concerts that form part of an extensive events programme
accompanying the exhibition.
John Cage is best known as a composer. Early on in his career he began
to incorporate radio (static) and recorded sound into his
compositions, to write music for prepared piano, other non-standard
instruments, everyday objects and to allow chance (random noise) to play a
key role in his works.
By the late 1960s, the composer began to make a name for himself as a
visual artist as well. He experimented, influenced by the work of his
friend Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) and Zen Buddhism, with different
printing techniques and explored ways of translating his chance-controlled
compositional principles into the new visual medium. John Cages
multidisciplinary creative practice inspired some of the key trends of
1960s visual art, among them Hap-pening, Fluxus and Pop Art.
In the collection of the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, John Cage is
represented by drawings, prints and a three-dimensional work, the
Plexigram No. 3 "Not Wanting to Say Anything About Marcel".
The Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs has been acquiring
works by John Cage since 1981, many of them through the "Konrad
Kohlhammer-Stiftung" to the Friends of the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. The
latest acquisition to date, an etching, entered the collection in 2003
thanks to the "Vermächtnis Günther und Renate Hauff".
Other works on paper from the two bequests are currently on show
in the exhibition To the Museum of Modern Dreams: Artistic Concepts of
the 1960s to the 1980s (until 30 September 2012).
Further works by and about John Cage primarily books and
archival material entered the collection in 1981 through the acquisition
of the Sohm Archive, one of the worlds leading collections of archival
material documenting avant-garde art movements such as Fluxus. The dentist
Hanns Sohm (1921 1999) from Markgröningen (near Stuttgart) had
collected material documenting art trends such as Fluxus, Happening or
Performance Art for many years. His acquaintance with Dick Higgins (1938
1998), the publisher of Cages Notations, allowed him to
put together a substantial body of documents, some of which are presented
here for the first time.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue documenting the
Staatsgaleries holdings of work by John Cage. It is available at the
Museum Shop for € 9.80 Euro.
The presentation is complemented by a programme of autumn events
featuring evening performances of several of Cages compositions: 25
September; 6, 11, 30 October; 8, 10
Its John. John Cage
Konrad-Adenauer-Str. 30 - 32
Tel: (49) 711 470 40 0
All titles are chosen by the editors as being of interest to
Begin Again: A Biography of John Cage
Hardcover: 496 pages
No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage's 4'33"
Paperback: 272 pages
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