Friday, February 6, 2009

John Cage at the Guggenheim

Have you been out to see The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989 at the Guggenheim? It's a fascinating look on the influence of Asian art and culture (particularly that of Zen Buddhism among the Beats, who are well-represented) on America's artistic development. The New York Times recently featured a review of the exhibit.

Reading the biographical information for many of the artists, it's hard not to come across John Cage's name. As Holland Cotter writes in the New York Times review:
A section of the show is dedicated to him, or rather to a concept he embodied, one absolutely central to Asian culture: the idea of lineage, the transmission of forms and knowledge from mind to mind.

Cage developed his aesthetic of chance operation in part through study with the Zen scholar D. T. Suzuki, and shared what he learned with contemporaries like Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns...

But Cage’s creative DNA also passed on to a generation of younger, Zen-tinged, Neo-Dada artists who used the group name Fluxus. Work by several of them — Nam June Paik, Yoko Ono, Alison Knowles — is assembled near Cage’s, along with a ready-for-the-future-travel suitcase packed with Fluxiana.
In the fall, we'll be publishing John Cage: Zen Ox-Herding Pictures which assembles fifty watercolor pieces made by Cage at the Mountain Lake Workshop as practice for his larger works. These pieces were preserved by Ray Kass, the founder of the workshop, and will be presented for the first time in this book along with essays by Kass and co-author Stephen Addiss about the significance of the pictures and the influence of Zen on the life and art of John Cage.

In short, go see the exhibit and keep an eye out for John Cage: Zen Ox-Herding Pictures this fall!

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