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John Cage / Milan Grygar: Chance Operations & Intention
30th August to 8th November


© Milan Grygar, Tacticle drawing, 1969

The Ludwig Museum juxtaposes the two exceptional artists John Cage and Milan Grygar, and explores their works under the aspects of chance and concept, experiment, everyday sounds and the expansion of music and art. Cage was one of the most prominent composers of the 20th century, and painter and graphic artist at the same time. Milan Grygar is one of the most distinguished Czech avant-garde artists, who has been extending the definition of drawing by sound, space and time in his acoustic drawings and performances since the 1960s.

Milan Grygar (born in 1926) fascinated the art world as one of the most significant artists of the Eastern Bloc. As early as in 1964 Grygar included chance, everyday sounds and mechanical sounds into his graphic work in order to exceed the defined borders of fine arts and music. The colouring being reduced, sound is an essential part of his paintings, water colours and drawn scores. The tape recording of the actual creation process and its accompanying sounds as well as other everyday sounds resulted in the so-called 'acoustic drawings'. When performed in front of the audience they became 'life drawings'. Photo shoots documenting those happenings illustrate particularly well the processuality of the acoustic and life drawings. The American composer, painter and poet John Cage (1912 – 1992) is regarded as the inventor of the 'happening' and godfather of the Fluxus movement. The first happening, called "Untitled Event", with Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg and David Tudor, and the 'silent' composition "4 minutes 33 seconds" (4' 33") established Cage's reputation as avant-garde composer. Since the 1950s his musical compositions were inspired by Asian philosophy and his concepts of chance, silence and autonomy. His encounters and friendships with Dada artists such as Marcel Duchamp and young American artists of the time, such as Rauschenberg or Warhol, inspired Cage at the end of the 1960s to make his own paintings and series of graphics. Like his compositions, his visual works demonstrate Cage's highly complex artistic method of chance operations on the basis of the ancient Chinese "I Ching".

For this reason Milan Grygar and John Cage's works enter into an enthralling dialogue. Their works feature great similarities with regard to their enlarged concept of art, the visualization of sound, and the sound of pictures. After John Cage's visit to Prague in 1964 and the joint performances of Cage and Grygar's works at the end of the 1970s, this exhibition now presents these two experimental artists based on their visual works, their dimensions of sound and picture, of chance and concept, and provides evidence for correlations between them.

The exhibition has been made possible thanks to the generous loans by numerous museums and institutions, i. e. the Kunsthalle Bremen, the Staatliches Museum Schwerin, the Kunstmuseum Villa Zanders at Bergisch Gladbach, the Pori Art Museum (Finland), the Maria and Walter Schnepel Foundation at Budapest, the Edition Block at Berlin, Schüppenhauer art + projects at Cologne, and magnanimous private collectors, as well as the kind support by the gallery Zden?k Sklená? of Prague for the realisation with Milan Grygar.

© John Cage, Fontana Mix (OrangeTan),
1972, Carl Solveig Gallery
© John Cage, Strings 1-20, #19,
Monotypie von Schnüren, 1980, Kunsthalle Bremen
   

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