John Cage Visual Art: To Sober and Quiet the Mind (2000)

Artist(s): John Cage
Author(s): Kathan Brown
Format: hardback
Year published: 2000
Publisher: Crown Point Press
Total Pages: 142
Illustrations: Profusely illustrated


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John Cage advocated paying attention to the world around us, and “to the life that we are so excellently living.” He is mainly known as a composer who affected the course of music in our time, but he also lectured, wrote commentary and poetry, and made prints, watercolours, and drawings. He died in 1992, but his work continues to affect people conscious of shaping their own lives. Kathan Brown worked with John Cage on the prints that make up the largest and most sustained aspect of his visual art. She offers this book as a tool to help readers move freely through Cage’s art, using whatever seems interesting. The book is in three parts. The first is a text written from Brown’s own experience. In it, she often uses Cage’s words to describe particular works, and she reflects upon how the art can be used in the world. The second is a detailed section that illustrates “scores” that Cage created for his printers, and explains his use of what he called “chance operations” in making his work. The third section of the book is pictorial. Cage told Brown that the purpose of art is “to sober and quiet the mind, so that it is in accord with what happens.” The book contains many fine reproductions arranged to invite contemplation. Condition: small closed tear and some light creasing to top edge of dust-wrapper’s front panel, otherwise fine.


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