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CATEGORY: THERE WILL NEVER BE SILENCE: SCORING JOHN CAGE'S 4'33"

Posts in ‘There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage's 4'33"’
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Talking John Cage with David Platzker and Jon Hendricks

John Cage. 4'33" (In Proportional Notation). 1952/53. Ink on paper, each page: 11 x 8 1/2" (27.9 x 21.6 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the generosity of Henry Kravis in honor of Marie-Josée Kravis, 2012. © 2014 John Cage Trust

John Cage. 4’33″ (In Proportional Notation). 1952/53. Ink on paper, each page: 11 x 8 1/2″ (27.9 x 21.6 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the generosity of Henry Kravis in honor of Marie-Josée Kravis, 2012. © 2014 John Cage Trust

I had the pleasure of speaking with David Platzker and Jon Hendricks, curators of There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33″ (October 12, 2013 to June 22, 2014), about the development of the show. David Platzker has been Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, since May 2013. Jon Hendricks is an artist and Fluxus Consulting Curator of the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection. Read more

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John Cage and the Northwest School
Mark Tobey. The Void Devouring the Gadget Era. 1942. Tempera on board, 21 7/8 x 30" (55.3 x 76.0 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist, 1964. © 2014 Estate of Mark Tobey/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Mark Tobey. The Void Devouring the Gadget Era. 1942. Tempera on board, 21 7/8 x 30″ (55.3 x 76.0 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist, 1964. © 2014 Estate of Mark Tobey/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The first gallery of the exhibition There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33″ contains works by John Cage’s contemporaries and influences, including such well-known names as Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Albers, Jasper Johns, Barnett Newman, and Robert Rauschenberg. Works by two lesser-known West Coast artists, Mark Tobey and Morris Graves, also occupy this space, pointing to Cage’s brief but seminal years living in Seattle. Read more

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Yoko Ono’s Secret Piece
Yoko Ono Grapefruit

Yoko Ono. Grapefruit. 1964. Artist’s book (Tokyo: Wunternaum Press). Offset on paper, 5 1/2 x 5 1/16″ (13.9 x 13.8 x 3.1 cm) (overall, closed)

Many of the works featured in the exhibition There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33″ were created around 1960, as a generation of artists and students of John Cage reacted to the radical possibilities opened up by his 4’33″. The score had finally been published eight years after its first performance at Woodstock in 1952. Read more

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“Is This a Social Experiment?” Performing John Cage
Serra Sabuncuoglu and Robert Barry participate in Performing John Cage, The Museum of Modern Art, February 18, 2014. Photo by Sarah Kennedy

Serra Sabuncuoglu and Robert Barry participate in Performing John Cage, The Museum of Modern Art, February 18, 2014. Photo by Sarah Kennedy

Twice daily, from February 7 to 20, MoMA staff and invited artists performed John Cage’s score 4’33″ in an area just outside the exhibition There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33″. Over the course of those two weeks, 28 renditions of 4’33″ were performed by 20 staff members and eight guest artists. Read more

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Constructed Situations: Communicating the Influence of John Cage

Through examining four pieces in The Museum of Modern Art’s collection, one can better understand how John Cage’s embrace of indeterminacy can be traced in the period following 4’33″ (1952) and in more recent years, and how these later works play with the concepts of chance and the ephemeral in different ways. Read more

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The Poetry of Silence: Jackson Mac Low’s Drawing-Asymmetry

Jackson Mac Low. Drawing-Asymmetry #5. 1961. Ink and colored ink on paper, 8 9/16 x 11 7/8″ (21.7 x 30.2 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift, 2008. © 2014 The Estate of Jackson Mac Low

Jackson Mac Low. Drawing-Asymmetry #5. 1961. Ink and colored ink on paper, 8 9/16 x 11 7/8″ (21.7 x 30.2 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift, 2008. © 2014 The Estate of Jackson Mac Low


If you visit MoMA’s exhibition There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33″, you will encounter a suite of enigmatic drawings by Fluxus-affiliated poet Jackson Mac Low, comprising swirling letters and seemingly nonsensical combinations of words. Although they seem like meaningless scribbles, the words are actually legible and meant to be read aloud. Read more

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Composing Silence: John Cage and Black Mountain College
Installation view of <i>There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33"</i>, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 12, 2013–June 22, 2014

Installation view of There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33″, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 12, 2013–June 22, 2014

John Cage first visited Black Mountain College, in Asheville, North Carolina, in April 1948, while on his way to the West Coast with choreographer Merce Cunningham. Though he only stayed in Asheville for a few days—premiering his composition Sonatas and Interludes—the visit proved formative. Read more

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Reading John Cage
Installation view of There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage's 4'33", The Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 12, 2013–June 22, 2014

Installation view of There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33″, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 12, 2013–June 22, 2014

Though the exhibition There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4′33" primarily draws upon works from MoMA’s collection, with a few key outside loans, the voice of John Cage himself was instrumental in guiding the selection of artists, and, in some cases, the specific works on view. Read more

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Silence Is Not What It Used to Be

In an era when no cell phones or other digital devices existed, silence was a more common facet of everyday life. Perhaps attention spans were longer, distractions fewer, and maybe the pace of world was slower. It’s nice to be romantic about a period before communication was measured in 140 characters, when the simple act of writing a letter was a considered an opportunity to put one’s thoughts into words, often by hand, in ink on paper. Read more