It’s hard to overstate how awesome John Cage is. It’s so hard to overstate, in fact, that there’s a chance of gushing, which as a rule I don’t do. Cage broke a lot of rules, though—like the one that says music has to have notes, or that you shouldn’t put crap in a piano, or that art is about making choices. In addition to being an innovator in music, Cage wrote a lot, and is an important influence for much contemporary conceptual writing. Some people think he’s a charlatan, though his critical writings suggest otherwise.
He also did visual art, the first mature piece of which—“Not Wanting to Say Anything about Marcel”—is at the Norton Simon until the end of March. It dates from 1969, a year after the death of Duchamp (whose first retrospective, incidentally, was at the then “Pasadena Art Museum” in 1963), a friend of and influence on Cage. The museum has a good introduction to the work, and Cage generally, here. Go early, go often.
Not Wanting to Say Anything about Marcel: An Artwork by John Cage
September 24, 2010 – March 28, 2011
The Norton Simon Museum of Art
411 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena