This Hayward Touring Exhibition was the first major retrospective in the UK of the visual art of the American composer and artist John Cage (1912–1992). The exhibition was conceived by Jeremy Millar and organised with the close support and guidance of the John Cage Trust, in collaboration with BALTIC. The exhibition opened at BALTIC in June 2010, then toured to Kettle's Yard, Cambridge; Huddersfield Art Gallery; Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery, Glasgow and De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea.
Inspired by Cage’s use of chance-determined scores, the exhibition differed markedly from a traditional touring exhibition. The procedure that Cage often employed, using an I Ching-like computer programme, was used to determine the layout of the exhibition within each venue, with the programme determining the position of each work through chance operations. This resulted in works being displayed at many different heights, and in groups that no curator would ordinarily choose; such chance encounters between quite different works give a sense of them being part of an ongoing creative process, rather than merely being the result of one creative moment. Much as Cage removed his intention from his own works, it was hoped that the intention of the curator could be similarly removed from this exhibition.
With over one hundred works in the show including drawings, watercolours and prints, the exhibition focused on his visual art, each venue programmed a series of events that explored other aspects of Cage’s practice, music especially, but also writing, dance, performance and film.
The book to accompany the exhibition was the first publication to cover all aspects of Cage's visual art, with more than sixty plates and other illustrations, and four interviews by curator Jeremy Millar with authorities on Cage's visual art work, all of whom knew him well. It also included a substantial extract from the art critic Irving Sandler's 1966 interview with Cage, and a 'Cage Companion' of quotations and commentaries reflecting the range of his interests and concerns over sixty years, from 'Anarchy' to 'Zen'.
The exhibition revealed the radicalism and continuing significance of John Cage’s work in all the spheres in which he worked, and provided the basis and spur for multiple levels of engagement at each venue.
Exhibition opened at BALTIC, Gateshead 18 June - 5 September 2010 then toured to -
25 September - 14 November 2010
Kettle's Yard, Cambridge
20 November - 8 January 2011
Museum and Art Gallery, Huddersfield
19 February - 2 April 2011
Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow
16 April - 5 June 2011
De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea
12 August - 18 September 2011
Project Space, Hayward Gallery
For information on this exhibition please contact Alison Maun email@example.com
Image credit: John Cage - River Rocks and Smoke: 4-11-90 #1 Courtesy The John Cage Trust at Bard.