John Cage
Mushrooms and Music

The iconic American composer John Cage's work changed the course of twentieth-century music. The experimental, playful and meditative aspects of his music are evident in our prints: text and image are placed by chance to simultaneously destruct and create meaning.

The 1969 series of four state proofs, Not Wanting to Say Anything About Marcel, is a fitting tribute to Cage’s friend and colleague Marcel Duchamp, who died the previous year. The title refers to Jasper Johns’ words upon being asked to create a memoriam for Duchamp himself.

Also in our exhibition are three screenprint posters promoting Cage’s performance of the multisensory happening HPSCHD at the University of Illinois on May 14, 1969. These are particularly rare as, unlike most remaining posters from the performance, ours are signed. 

Finally, the trial proofs for John Cage and Lois Long’s Mushroom Book mark Cage’s special interest in mushrooms: Cage first foraged wild mushrooms and sold them to New York City restaurants to earn a living.  Thus began a lifelong study and love of mushrooms, Cage becoming an amateur mycologist and even publishing his mushroom recipes in Vogue. Cage was drawn to the mushroom’s random and irregular growth patterns and associations with the psychedelic. These trial proofs are signed by Cage and the textile designer Long.

Cage, John
Not Wanting to Say Anything About Marcel.
Lithographs.
Size of sheets: 69 x 101.2 cm.
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Cage, John
HPSCHD (Dragon slayer).
Screenprint on black paper.
Sheet size: 101.6 x 66 cm.
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Cage, John
HPSCHD (Sheep).
Screenprint on black paper.
Sheet size: 101.6 x 66 cm.
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Cage, John
HPSCHD (Lavender).
Screenprint on lavender paper.
Sheet size: 101.6 x 66 cm.
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Cage, John
Trial proof for 'Mushroom Book'.
Lithograph.
Sheet size: 57 x 38.2 cm.
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Cage, John
Trial proof for 'Mushroom Book'.
Lithograph.
Sheet size: 57 x 38.2 cm.
view artwork
Cage, John
Trial proof for 'Mushroom Book'.
Lithograph.
Sheet size: 57 x 38.2 cm.
view artwork
Cage, John
Trial proof for 'Mushroom Book'.
Lithograph.
Sheet size: 57 x 38.2 cm.
view artwork