changing installation / John Cage




chairs and artworks

With its distinctive space, the Mattress Factory was a constituent of the 1991 Carnegie International, the 51st in a series of contemporary art exhibitions of The Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Every day the camera, positioned according to another script, made a chronicle of the changing gallery, registering the impact of an additional element: the natural light.

John Cage planned the installation for the full fourth floor of 500 Sampsonia Way. He made a grid of the gallery floor and walls, and assigned a number to each grid space. A computer program generated random patterns for placement of the wall-hung works and the chairs.

The plan for the exhibition blocked out instructions. Each day the curator hung the 15 works of art and placed the chairs designated by the plan.
Artist Statement
In an empty room the chair(s), the walls neither painted nor the paint removed (the walls as they are), the use of chance operations to determine the placement and orientation of the chair(s) and which fifteen of a source of forty-eight works, twelve each by Dove Bradshaw, John Cage, Mary Jean Kenton, and Marsha Skinner are presented each day.
About the Artist
Working during the heyday of Abstract Expressionism, John Cage honed his skills in the midst of the growing American avant garde. Neither a painter or a sculptor, Cage is best known for revolutionizing modern music through his incorporation of unconventional instrumentation and the idea of environmental music dictated by chance. His approach to composition was deeply influenced by Asian philosophies, focusing on the harmony that exists in nature, as well as elements of chance. Cage is famous not only for his radical works, like 4'33" (1952), in which the ambient noise of the recital hall created the music, but also for his innovative collaborations with artists like Merce Cunningham and Robert Rauschenberg. These partnerships helped break down the divisions between the various realms of art production, such as music, performance, painting, and dance, allowing for new interdisciplinary work to be produced. Cage's influence ushered in groundbreaking stylistic developments key to contemporary art and paved the way for the postmodern artistic inquiries, which began in the late 1960s and further challenged the established definition of fine art.

In 1949 he was honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship and received an award from the National Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1986 he received an honorary Doctorate of Performing Arts from the California Institutes of the Arts.
October 19, 1991 – February 16, 1992
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