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John Cage

American, 1912–1992

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John Cage

American, 1912–1992

2,011
Followers
Biography

One of the most influential composers of the 20th century and a leading figure in the post-war avant-garde, John Cage was a music theorist, writer, and artist, as well as a composer. His most famous piece, 4’33” (1952), consisted of musicians doing nothing but listening to the sounds in a room for the duration of 4 minutes and 33 seconds. For Cartridge Music (1960), he amplified small household objects in a live performance. Influenced by Indian philosophy, Zen Buddhism, and Duchamp’s readymades, Cage championed chance procedures in music, incorporating found sounds, noise, and alternative instruments into his compositions. Two important early collaborators were the painter Robert Rauschenberg and the dancer Merce Cunningham, who was also his romantic partner for most of their lives. Cage published his first book, Silence, in 1961 and, in the 1970s, began to transform literary works, including those of Joyce and Thoreau, into music.

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Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
User
Solo show at a major institution
Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), and 3 more
Group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 14 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Tate, and 2 more
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum, and 3 more
Fair
Included in a major biennial
Venice Biennale International Exhibition, and 3 more
Biography

One of the most influential composers of the 20th century and a leading figure in the post-war avant-garde, John Cage was a music theorist, writer, and artist, as well as a composer. His most famous piece, 4’33” (1952), consisted of musicians doing nothing but listening to the sounds in a room for the duration of 4 minutes and 33 seconds. For Cartridge Music (1960), he amplified small household objects in a live performance. Influenced by Indian philosophy, Zen Buddhism, and Duchamp’s readymades, Cage championed chance procedures in music, incorporating found sounds, noise, and alternative instruments into his compositions. Two important early collaborators were the painter Robert Rauschenberg and the dancer Merce Cunningham, who was also his romantic partner for most of their lives. Cage published his first book, Silence, in 1961 and, in the 1970s, began to transform literary works, including those of Joyce and Thoreau, into music.

Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
User
Solo show at a major institution
Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), and 3 more
Group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 14 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Tate, and 2 more
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum, and 3 more
Fair
Included in a major biennial
Venice Biennale International Exhibition, and 3 more
Shows Featuring John Cage
Articles Featuring John Cage
Understanding 11 Great Artists through the Instructions They Left Behind
Apr 15th, 2019
Understanding 11 Great Artists through the Instructions They Left Behind
The Best New Children’s Books for Budding Art Lovers
Dec 13th, 2017
The Best New Children’s Books for Budding Art Lovers
Learn to Cook with John Cage, Marilyn Minter, and Louise Bourgeois
Sep 22nd, 2017
Learn to Cook with John Cage, Marilyn Minter, and Louise Bourgeois
Why Can’t the Art World Embrace Robert Rauschenberg’s Queer Community?
May 19th, 2017
Why Can’t the Art World Embrace Robert Rauschenberg’s Queer Community?
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