John Cage and ...

Visual Artist - Influences, Impulses

The 100th birthday of the  composer, musician, philosopher, writer and thinker John Cage is celebrated all over the world. In cooperation with the Academy of Arts, Berlin, MdM SALZBURG has organized an the exhibition which focuses on the visual oeuvre of the allrounder John Cage, who greatly influenced art in the second half of the 20th century.

Despite John Cage‘s (1912-1992) tremendous influence and the admiration and respect of numerous contemporariesand younger generations of artists, his visual oeuvre and his impact on visual arts are much less familiar than his music. The exhibition at the MdM MÖNCHSBERG highlights not only the impact of John Cage on art, but also presents his visual oeuvre in the context of 20th century art history by casting a new light on the influence of European Modernism on John Cage, outlining mutual inspirations and his impact on fellow artists beyond the Fluxus movement. It unites media art and musical works, works on paper and scores created by John Cage since the 1930s with works by his mentors and friends Marcel Duchamp, Richard Buckminster Fuller, Morris Graves, Nam June Paik, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Tobey and many others. In this way it puts cultural interrelationships up for a new discussion, like the relationship with Asia, Zen and White Writing (Mark Tobey), with European art and synesthesia, with Happening, Fluxus, Zero and Conceptual Art.

Another focal point is the connection between Cage‘s development as visual artist and the beginning of Classical Modernism in Europe, which was closely monitored by John Cage, a fact unknown to many. In 1939 he organized exhibitions of works by Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Jawlensky - three of the “Blue Four“ group, who were introduced to him by the Germanborn art collector and dealer Galka Scheyer. Major works by Jawlensky, Klee, László Moholy-Nagy as well as Anni and Josef Albers highlight the influence of Classical Modernity on John Cage and the impulses he received from fellow artists during his time spent as teacher at the “Chicago School of Design“ and at the “Black Mountain College“ in North Carolina.

The second focal point of the exhibition is John Cage‘s preoccupation with silence and its impact on works by his contemporaries and younger artists, as well as the significance of chance in artistic creation. The latter becomes evident in the installation “Museumscircle“, which was originally conceived by John Cage for an exhibition in Munich in 1991 and “curated“ by chance. It presents various works from numerous Salzburg-based collections, free from traditional classifications and hierarachies.
Another focal point of the exhibition is Cage‘s close personal and professional relationship with the dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham (1919-2009) with a presentation of selected cooperations.

The exhibition at the MdM MÖNCHSBERG is divided into three parts: Level 4 is dedicated to Cage‘s chosen role models, his attractive graphic scores, drawings and watercolours and numerous homages - featuring works ranging from Nam Jun Paik and Yoko Ono to Joe Jones, Christian Marclay and many others. Level 3 showcases his documentations of choreographies of his partner Merce Cunningham and his Dance Company. Level 2 features large-scale installations which are a tribute to or directly refer to John Cage‘s oeuvre, including “Mapping the Studio I (Fat Chance John Cage)“ by Bruce Nauman, 2001, the multi-screen projection “Performing Silence“ by Tyler Adams, 2009, “Solo“ by Christian Marclay, 2009, and the installation “Silent Exercises“, 2011, by Christina Kubisch, which was specially adapted for this show.

The exhibition in Salzburg is complemented by a varied accompanying programme, including concerts, performances, dance events, workshops etc.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Wulf Herzogenrath and Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk have edited a book published in the series DuMont Dokumente with financial support from the Ernst von Siemens Art Foundation. (German, 320 pages, € 24,95 - available at the MuseumShop).

Part of the worldwide programs celebrating the 100th birthday of John Cage: 

Tuesday - Sunday: 
10.00 am - 6.00 pm
10.00 am - 8.00 pm
Monday: closed