Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art opens Centennial Celebration. Prints by John Cage

University of Richmond Museums Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art opens Centennial Celebration. Prints by John Cage, an exhibition on view August 22 to Friday, June 28, 2013.

John Cage (1912-1992), 30 Drawings by Thoreau, 1974, color lithograph on paper, 30 x 20 inches, Joel and Lila Harnett Print Study Center, University of Richmond Museums, Museum purchase, funds from the Louis S. Booth Arts Fund, H2012.10.03 © John Cage Trust at Bard College

American artist, seminal composer, poet, and music theorist, John Cage (1912-1992) was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde. Known as one of the most important composers of the twentieth century, Cage collaborated with several notable choreographers and artists, including Merce Cunningham, Marcel Duchamp, and Robert Rauschenberg. In the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s, Cage’s interest in East Asian and Indian philosophy led him to abandon intention, memory, and personal taste from music, performance, poetry, and visual art.

To celebrate Cage’s centennial, the exhibition of prints include Not Wanting to Say Anything About Marcel, Lithograph A and Lithograph B, created in 1969 as a tribute to artist Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), the influential French artist who was a friend and mentor of Cage. These two prints, along with his “Plexigrams,” were Cage’s first artworks as a visual artist. The flip of a coin determined the process for the production of the lithographs. With I Ching, the Chinese “Book of Changes,” Cage used the numerical system to determine the design and composition of each print.

Also on view is the print 30 Drawings by Thoreau which relates to a score Cage composed based upon drawings that Henry David Thoreau created in his journals in the mid-1800s. Again employing the I Ching method, Cage used images and text – sometimes only letters and syllables – to make both visual and sound art inspired by this nineteenth-century author.

The exhibition was organized by the University of Richmond Museums and curated by Richard Waller, Executive Director, University Museums.

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