John Cage Was

James Klosty. Wesleyan Univ., $55 (228p) ISBN 978-0-8195-7504-3
The countless musicians, artists, and others whose minds and ears Cage cracked open in the course of his long, creative life, as well as those who are intrigued by his artifacts, will relish this collection of photographs of the iconoclastic, groundbreaking composer and his milieu from 1967–1972. Photographer Klosty captures Cage attentively rehearsing with choreographer Merce Cunningham (the title subject of the author's 1975 photo collection). Many photos portray Cage gleefully at work pulling prints, performing, teaching, and enjoying life with that inimitable grin. The book also documents his writing, artwork, and collaborators, interspersed with musings from those who knew or were influenced by him, such as fellow artistic visionaries like Yvonne Ranier, Steve Paxton, and Pauline Oliveros, to Stephen Sondheim who reminiscences jokingly about exploiting Cage's experiments by integrating them into more main stream artistic forms. "Some of the photographs… may seem posed, or set up, or carefully lit," writes Klosty in the introduction, "Not the case. John was so open to life that he was fully available to the intrusion of the camera at any moment. I admit to hoping that those interested in John Cage will find … not merely representations of an influential composer, performer, writer, mycologist, artist, and philosopher, but also, here and there, glimpses into an always searching, unfailingly playful, unique beautiful spirit." (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 12/08/2014
Release date: 10/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
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