‘John Cage: The Sight of Silence’
John Cage was not only a composer, writer and music theorist; he was also a passionate visual artist. The National Academy Museum of New York presents “John Cage: The Sight of Silence,” a special exhibit that provides insight into the mind of an artist who critics consider one of the most influential American composers of the 20th Century. Cage was a man that profoundly impacted the evolution of music, crossing new frontiers and shaping the work of future generations of artists and musicians.
He is best known for his 1952 composition 4’33’’, which is deliberately performed in the absence of sound. During his career, Cage created a very extensive body of prints, watercolors and drawings. Sixty of the artist’s works are on display and it is the only showing of his visual work in New York City during his centenary year. Most of these works were produced during the 1980s and in 1990, when Cage was artist-in-residence at the Mountain Lake Workshop in Virginia. “A lot of people know Cage as a musician, a philosopher, and a writer, but only a few people know that he was also a painter,” said Marshall N. Price, Academy Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.
The exhibition also includes other media, such as photographs, videos of Cage painting and recordings of his music. He is well known because of his technique, called chance operations, to create both his visual and musical works. He sought to eliminate the personal touch of the artist by relying on indeterminacy. In contrast to traditional Western ideas of artistic process, he used Ancient Eastern philosophy to guide his aesthetic decisions.
“I use chance operations instead of operating according to my likes and dislikes,” said Cage, a man who tried to express freedom not only in the music world and in art, but also in his life, and a man that believed in the sound of silence. His works seem characterized by their revolutionary qualities. His graphic compositions and music honor silence along with sound. #
“John Cage: The Sight of Silence” runs through January 13, 2013, at the National Academy Museum, 1083 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street.