cover image The Sight of Silence: John Cage's Complete Watercolors

The Sight of Silence: John Cage's Complete Watercolors

Ray Kass. Taubman Museum of Art (Univ. of Virginia, dist.), $34.95 (144p) ISBN 9780615401805

Composer and performer John Cage (1912-1992), the epitome of the avant-garde artist, expanded from music composition into the world of visual art, and employed the philosophy of non-intention. His use of indeterminate notation was his greatest contribution to music and he carried it over into his watercolors. Cage took to the conceptual art movement with ease, incorporating Zen painting and calligraphy. Use of the I-Ching helped him avoid controlling the form or content of his work, though perhaps the fact of using a tool to make choices eliminates the very essence of chance that he was seeking. Cage's visual works began with etchings called Where R=Ryoanji, a series of outlines of stones, inspired by the Ryoanji Zen garden in Kyoto. He continued to work on this project at Virginia's Mountain Lake Workshop in Virginia, founded and directed by Kass. Cage produced his series, River Rocks and Smoke, using papers burned and pressed, then painted with various washes, and finally outlined using local stones from the New River. His depth of purpose is evident here, as is Cage's incredible talent. (July)