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Paul Bergen/Courtesy of Redferns

Like Arp and Brecht before him, Cage didn’t adhere to accepted aesthetic rules and patterns for the construction of works of art; he deliberately eschewed the idea that art is created solely through personal taste manipulating elements of visual form. Instead, as is especially evident in the works from his time shared with this workshop, Cage insured that marks unfold in sequence and remain clearly layered in “time” as a series of “chance occurrences” “scattered” within the “space” of the paper, a space that is both a real and a metaphorical place in which to “let” things happen.

As a composer he necessarily had to involve performers in the collaborative process of actually playing his music. This has always been an accepted practice in music. After all, the composer writes the musical score with the understanding that others will play it. Once this realization came to the forefront in Cage’s thinking, it allowed him to expand the possibilities of the collaborative process in relation to his own work and aesthetic ideas. When it came to doing visual art, Cage gradually came to reassess the implications of the painted mark, especially regarding its expressive content. He too came to embrace the idea that it doesn’t matter who “holds the brush” as long as they work with sincere commitment to the spirit of the work.

- Howard Risatti

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