By leaves or play of sunlight John Cage: Artist and Naturalist

cagecarryingbaskets70021958, Stony Point. Photo courtesy John Cage Trust.

Curated by Chris Murtha, presented with the John Cage Trust and the New York Mycological Society, this exhibition of plant-inspired artworks by John Cage (1912-1992) examines how he applied his chance operations to the natural world.

When and where
April 2—May 16, 2014
The Horticultural Society of New York, 148 West 37th Street, 13th Floor
New York

John Cage was already well established as a pioneering composer when he became fascinated with mushrooms in the 1950s, but he was so committed to this pursuit, he co-founded the present incarnation of the New York Mycological Society.

Nature was central to Cage’s visual art practice; he found particular inspiration in the study of mushrooms and Thoreau’s journal sketches, and his materials included river rocks, smoke, and medicinal plants. The centerpiece of this exhibition is Mushroom Book (1972), a portfolio of lithographs created with mycologist Alexander H. Smith and artist Lois Long, whose botanical illustrations offer a stark contrast to Cage’s prints of overlapping handwritten texts.

The show also includes prints that incorporate Thoreau’s drawings and selections from Edible Drawings (1990), a series of handmade papers made with ingredients from the artist’s macrobiotic diet.