Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Tag: john cage

Charles Gaines

‘Numbers and Trees: London Series 1, Tree #6, Fetter Lane’ (2020), photo: Fredrik Nilsen; © Charles Gaines, Hauser & Wirth

When Charles Gaines was in elementary school in Newark, New Jersey, in the 1950s, he showed an aptitude for drawing. His well-meaning teacher suggested to his mother that perhaps he should be an artist. He could be the first black artist in the history of the world, she said.

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John Cage

Cage Foraging in Grenoble, France, 1971. 
Photograph by James Klosty.
1.

In 1959, composer John Cage appeared on the popular Italian TV game show Lascia o Raddoppia? (Double or Nothing?). Specialist subject: mushroom identification. Cage was in Milan as the guest of fellow avant-garde composer Luciano Berio, and was performing a series of concerts. Berio was at that time working for Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI), the state media channel that included, improbably, an “experimental studio for audio research.” Others in Berio’s circle, including writer Umberto Eco and sound engineer Marino Zuccheri, also worked with RAI, and together the cohort had finagled Cage a spot on the show. 

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Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery 1959–1971

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Virginia-Dwan-at-the-exhibition-Language-III-Dwan-Gallery-New-York-1969

Virginia Dwan at the exhibition Language III, Dwan Gallery, New York, 1969, photograph by Roger Prigent, courtesy of Dwan Gallery Archive

There was no way it was ever not going to be a mess: eleven years of one of the most influential American art galleries, condensed into a 100,000 square foot section of LACMA’s Resnick Pavilion. Consider the fact that many of the artworks in the 134 exhibitions held over those eleven years turned out to be canonical Modernist masterpieces, and were acquired by museums or major private collections around the globe, many now unwilling or unable to lend them. Others were destroyed, or lost, or are too delicate to go on public display. Some – not all of them masterpieces – entered LACMA’s own collection, so of course they wound up in this show, whether they fully deserved to be there or not. Read the rest of this entry »