Collage / Reformat / Refocus

February 11 - July 23, 2017

Visit the exhibition Collage / Reformat / Refocus and see the world anew through works of art that create something fresh from something used. Discover works of art not usually on view, like John Cage’s Not Wanting to Say Anything about Marcel. John Cage created this work in memory of Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968).

Duchamp was an unusual artist working in the spirit of Dada: he gave titles to everyday objects and declared them art; his works were created by random choices; and he advocated for art based on concepts rather than visual appearances. Duchamp was influential to younger artists such as Cage, and his influence continues in the 21st century.

For Not Wanting to Say Anything about Marcel, Cage had randomly chosen words screen-printed onto Plexiglas sheets, which are also installed at random. The resulting visual/textual fields are ever in flux. About his process, Cage said, “If one translates the choices ordinarily made to produce a visual work of art into questions to be answered, one can then make a work of art by simply tossing coins. One is thus able to free such a work from the imposition of one’s desires, taste, and memory.” Similarly, Cage used a variety of words, images, and typefaces because, he said, “If you have a large enough number of things, judgment decreases and curiosity increases.”

One may see a shift from words to images and numbers from front to back, which Cage attributed to the 20th-century visual field. He said, “There is a comparable shift nowadays from languages which separate the world’s peoples to images (TV, highway signs, films, trademarks) which bring them together. Going to the moon we speak in numbers.”

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New York State Council on the Arts with the support of
Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.