An exhibition of works by John Cage including prints, drawings, multiples, and scores. With Friends includes works by William Anastasi, Dove Bradshaw, Merce Cunningham, Marcel Duchamp, Buckminster Fuller, Allen Ginsberg, Morris Graves, Richard Hamilton, Al Hansen, Dick Higgins, Jasper Johns, Ray Johnson, Allan Kaprow, Alison Knowles, Tom Marioni, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Ben Patterson, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Tobey, Emmett Williams & Robert Watts.
Carl Solway Gallery celebrates its 50th Anniversary and the 100th anniversary of John Cage’s birth with a tribute to Cage (1912-1992), the avant-garde American composer, music theorist, writer, philosopher and visual artist. In the words of Carl Solway, “No one was more influential in helping to shape both my personal life and my professional career than John Cage. His thinking influenced and expanded the nature of music, dance, painting and our perception of both art and life.”
The friendship between Carl Solway and John Cage began in 1968, when he was an artist- in- residence at the College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati. Their association led to the publication in 1969 of Cage’s first visual graphic works titled Not Wanting to Say Anything About Marcel, consisting of eight editioned sculptural objects called Plexigrams and two lithographs. These early works, created in tribute to Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), are included in museums and private collections worldwide. Throughout the remaining 23 years of his life, Cage continued to produce prints, drawings and multiples, often incorporating the same notions of chance and unpredictability characteristic of his revolutionary approach to musical composition. In searching for ways to circumvent tradition and break new ground, he often derived the elements of his pieces and their formal compositions by consulting the I-Ching, the Chinese “Book of Changes”, a numerical system with 64 possible outcomes. The exhibition will include a rich array of these visual works, musical scores and historical documents.
John Cage was born in Los Angeles in 1912. He began forging a complex network of friends and collaborators during his early studies and musical performances in southern California and Seattle. In Los Angeles, he studied with composer Arnold Schoenberg and through Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, he became acquainted with the Northwest mystical painters Mark Tobey (1890-1976) and Morris Graves (1910-2001). There he also met his future life partner, the dancer and choreographer, Merce Cunningham (1919-2009), with whom he would collaborate for decades on countless projects.
Cage moved to New York City in 1942. He taught at Black Mountain College in North Carolina during the summers of 1948 and 1952 where he met the visionary designer Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983), best known as the inventor of the geodesic dome, and the visual artists Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) and Jasper Johns (1930- ). For many years, John Cage taught at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, The New School for Social Research in New York City and Rutgers University in New Jersey. Through his classes and performances, he influenced and connected with artists involved in the Fluxus movement, several of whom shared backgrounds in avant-garde music. This loose association of playful and irreverent artists engaged in a myriad of activities including performances, book arts, mail art and sculpture. One of its members, Nam June Paik (1932-2006) pioneered video as an art form. Yoko Ono (1933-), Ben Patterson (1934-), Dick Higgins (1938-1998), Alison Knowles (1933-), Emmett Williams (1925-2007) and Robert Watts (1923-1988) were among those associated with Fluxus.
John Cage’s many friendships and affiliations also included the British Pop artist Richard Hamilton (1922-2011), the Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) and conceptual artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Tom Marioni (1937- ), William Anastasi (1933- ) and Allan Kaprow (1927-2006). Passions for studying Zen Buddhism, playing chess and hunting for mushrooms informed Cage’s life throughout all of these phases. Duchamp was his most influential chess partner, but this highly strategic game also proved to be an important connection for Carl Solway. To quote Solway, “Numerous times, we played chess in my gallery on Saturdays. I always lost. John consoled me by saying that when he played with Marcel Duchamp he always lost. Then John laughed with his famous and frequent joyous outburst”.
Cage facilitated Carl Solway’s introduction to many innovative artists prominent in the 1960s and 1970s. Working relationships subsequently developed with Richard Hamilton, Buckminster Fuller, Nam June Paik, Yoko Ono, Allan Kaprow and Ben Patterson among others.
Many of the works in this exhibition emphasize the interconnections between Cage and friends. A healthy dose of humor distinguishes many pieces. Among the highlights will be Marcel Duchamp’s Czech Check, circa 1964-65, a conceptual membership card to the Czechoslovak Mycological Society of Prague for John Cage. Mycology is the study of mushrooms. This work was purchased by Cincinnati arts patron, Alice Weston, and first shown at the Contemporary Arts Center in 1971. A gouache mandala by Morris Graves and a gestural sumi ink drawing by Mark Tobey characterize the mystical artwork influential to Cage during his formative years in Seattle. Prints from the 1960s by Robert Rauschenberg will be featured as well as a 1999 image depicting John Cage with his Model A Ford titled John (Ruminations). It references a legendary 1953 collaboration between Rauschenberg and Cage, Automobile Tire Print, in which Cage drove the Model A with a paint soaked tire over a 23-foot expanse of glued-together sheets of typing paper prepared by Rauschenberg. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Carl Solway Gallery collaborated with Buckminster Fuller to publish a portfolio of prints and fabricate sculptures. A number of these works will be on view. Nam June Paik’s video, Tribute to John Cage, will be shown in the gallery. Another video piece, Good Morning Mr. Orwell, will be screened on the evening of March 1 (see performance schedule below).
Cage continues to influence younger generations of artists including Dove Bradshaw (1949- ), who was an artistic advisor to the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Her work incorporates the effects of time, weather and atmospheric conditions. The exhibition will include her Radio Rocks from 1999. In this sculpture, rocks piled into cairns act as multi-directional antennas for receiving radio transmissions.
In addition to the exhibition, Carl Solway Gallery will host a series of related Thursday Evening Performances at Carl Solway Gallery Celebrating the Cage Centennial.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Sonatas and Ryoanji Interludes
Soprano Audrey Luna and multiple pianists present pieces from Cage’s seminal work for prepared piano connected through music he derived from his own drawings inspired by the famous Japanese Zen rock garden.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Percussion Group Cincinnati combines early turn-table classics with later Cunningham-related pieces: Branches for amplified cactus and BeachBirds/Extended Lullaby, using the rare music-box sculpture in the gallery’s collection of Cage artifacts.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Videos by Nam June Paik, “Good Morning Mr.Orwell”, and “Tribute to John Cage”, and Cage readings from “Silence”.
Thursday March 22, 2012
Not Wanting To Say Anything About Marcel
Bonnie Whiting Smith and Allen Otte in an evening of texted music for speaking percussionist/pianist. Texts of Cage, Thoreau, Joyce, and others, with Music for Marcel Duchamp as the basis of the newest piece: “Connecting Egypt to Madison and the history of the American labor movement”.
Free concerts begin at 7:30 pm, limited seating available. Please call gallery for reservations at 513-621-0069.
Carl Solway Gallery
424 Findlay Street
Cincinnati, OH 45214