CAGE, JOHN. (1912-1992). American experimental composer and music theorist. Signed playing card. (“John Cage”). 1p. 12mo. N.p., N.d. The ten of clubs playing card from pioneering Korean video artist Nam June Paik’s (1932-2006) A Tribute to John Cage Playing Cards with 2 identical images of Cage, signed in the blank middle margin by Cage.
Playing Card Signed by the American Experimental Composer
Signed by John Cage
The son of an inventor, Cage pursued his interest in art and music from an early age. Inspired by the work of Igor Stravinsky and Paul Hindemith, he studied with Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg, the latter taking him on as a pupil free of charge and exerting a tremendous influence on Cage. During the late 1930s, he worked as a dance accompanist at UCLA, beginning what would become a lifelong contribution to modern dance. Aided in his career by composer Lou Harrison, artists László Moholy-Nagy and Max Ernst, and the influential art collector Peggy Guggenheim, Cage enjoyed a number of faculty positions, earned commissions and refined his style which featured unconventional percussion and “prepared pianos,” which had been altered by objects placed between the strings. Although he struggled to make a living, Cage received critical approval and was encouraged by the music community until his controversial piece 4’33”, a 1952 three-movement composition which instructed players to remain silent for the entirety of the piece, and declared by Cage to be his most important work. Undeterred by the disapprobation the work earned him, Cage continued to compose, teach influential classes in experimental composition at The New School, and while in residence at North Carolina’s Black Mountain College, he staged his Theatre Piece No. 1, described as the first “happening.” Beginning in the 1950s, Cage began his forty-year affiliation with Wesleyan University where he taught music and lectured on a wide variety of subjects. Cage’s influence can be seen in such diverse artists as the Fluxus artists of the 1960s and 1970s, composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass and the rock band Sonic Youth.
Paik was a pianist and music theorist who met Cage while studying in Germany, and subsequently became a member of Fluxus and a pioneering video artist. During a 1960 performance of Chopin, he ran into the audience and cut David Tudor and Cage’s clothes with scissors and poured shampoo on them. In 1971, he built a cello out of televisions which he had famous cellists play. One of his “Playable Pieces,” Fluxus concept works (never performed), instructs “climb inside the vagina of a live female whale.” In 1973, Paik created a video entitled A Tribute to John Cage, “a pastiche of Cage’s performances and anecdotes, interviews with friends and colleagues, and examples of Paik’s participatory music and television works that parallel Cage’s strategies and concerns… Cage was one of the primary influences on Paik’s work, as well as his friend and frequent collaborator,” (“A Tribute to John Cage,” Electronic Arts Intermix website). The playing cards (unsigned by Cage) were issued five years later in an edition of 250 and featured silkscreened images of Cage taken from Paik’s video tribute.
In fine condition and especially uncommon in this format.