John Cage

PHOTO: Big Think Article, John Cage Guiding Spirit Of American Modern Art? by Bob Duggan

John Cage was a composer, poet and philosopher, a pioneer of the chance music and the post-war avant-

“(Chance Music) is a music of contingency, which is to say that I don’t have control of it. Unless I do something, nothing happens. So I am both out of control… but necessary.”
-John Cage

He began his studies with the desire to become a writer. However, studying at a university had no added value for him and so he decided to pursue his personal educational path.
This self-initiated educational path enabled Cage to get to know different areas of art as well as many people. Through does experiences he dedicated himself to music.

In 1951, inspired by the East and South Asian culture and especially the “I Ching”, he began to compose his works, which are so well known today, and with which he gained fame. In his compositions Cage dealt with the sounds of the environment. Silence is a key theme in his compositions, a silence that, according to Cage, does not exist. Just as important is the coincidence and autonomy in which every sound appears, takes up its space in all his indetermination, as well as connects. The resulting melodies sound like a dialogue of instruments, which can also simply be a shell or kettle. Accordingly the notes are not conventional, they can consist of strokes, lines and dots, as in Fantana Mix, or written action notes with time indications, as in 4’33 or water walk.

“Consider all things as music, (…) listen to the world in a different way”
-John Cage.

The openness and freedom with wich he approached life, situations, people, notes and sounds kept doors open for him, he decided to go his own way and managed to become the most important composer of the 20th century.


1992 | died in New York City.usa
1951 | starting with the chance music
1940’s | starting interest in Eastern philosophy, Zen Buddhism
1931 | returning to United States
1930 | traveling through Europa
1912 | was born in Los Angeles.usa

“I think the reason why I am so fascinating about numbers is that I don’t really understand them”
-John Cage


1933–1935 | Los Angeles.usa, studying with Arnold Schoenberg, University of Southern California and University
of California
1933 | New York City.usa, studying with Adolph Weiss and Henry Cowell
1930 | Europa, self studying, took up painting, poetry and music
1928–1930 | Claremont.usa, Pomona Collage, Theology
1928 | Los Angeles.usa, graduation form High Scholl as a valedictorian


1956+1959 | New York.usa, New School for Social Research
1946–1952 | North Carolina.usa, Black Mountain Collage
1941–1942 | Chicago.usa, Chicago School of Design


1969 | Notations
1967 | A Year from Monday
1962 | Catalog of Cage’s works,
1961 | Silence
since 1960 | association with C.F. Peters Corporation


2013 (till now) last solo exhibition, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst
Cage100: Finale Exhibition
Organisation: Forum Zeitgenössischer Musik Leipzig

2009–2010 first solo exhibition with a wide range of works, Museum of Contemporary Arts
The Anarchy of Silence John Cage and Experimental Art
Curator: Julia Robinson
Julia Robinson about the exhibition

famous pieces
1959 | water walk, solo television performance
1958 | Fontana Mix
1952 | 4’33

John Cage, Fontana Mix
John Cage preparing piano
John Cage's instructions for the preparation of a wing

Cyrus Karibu: Slay Queen (2018).
Photo: SMAC Gallery.

Online | 27 January to 28 February 2021 | Free Access


Exhibition | Artists | Program
Presenting artists an curators working with e-waste as artistic material.

An TASAWAR Project.