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Diary

Adam Shatz: Ornette Coleman, 16 July 2015

... it adversity, that such beauty does exist.’ Baraka made the observation in his liner notes to John Coltrane’s album Live at Birdland, which includes ‘Alabama’, an elegy for the four girls murdered in the 1963 Birmingham Church bombing.I thought of Baraka’s words at New York’s Riverside Church last Saturday, at the funeral of the alto saxophonist ...

The Ultimate Magical Synaesthesia Machine

Rob Young: Painting Music, 22 September 2011

The Music of Painting 
by Peter Vergo.
Phaidon, 367 pp., £39.95, November 2010, 978 0 7148 5762 6
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... boogie woogie’ may be, it isn’t concerned with the destruction of melody; Boulez, Cage, Stockhausen and electronic music would soon be seeing to that. Yet Vergo leaves these assertions untested. In the final pages cracks start to appear in Vergo’s thesis about music, as the world of correspondences between colour, shape and sound is ruined ...

Velvet Gentleman

Nick Richardson: Erik Satie, 4 June 2015

A Mammal’s Notebook: The Writings of Erik Satie 
edited by Ornella Volta, translated by Antony Melville.
Atlas, 224 pp., £17.50, June 2014, 978 1 900565 66 0
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... to be repeated a mind-numbing 840 times. The piece wasn’t performed in full until 1963, when John Cage managed it with a relay team of 11 pianists: it took 18 and a half hours. The relationship with Valadon was, as far as we know, the last sexual relationship Satie had.His despondency slowed down his rate of production. For at least two years, his ...

Must poets write?

Stephanie Burt: Poetry Post-Language, 10 May 2012

Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century 
by Marjorie Perloff.
Chicago, 232 pp., £11.50, April 2012, 978 0 226 66061 5
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Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age 
by Kenneth Goldsmith.
Columbia, 272 pp., £15.95, September 2011, 978 0 231 14991 4
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Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing 
edited by Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith.
Northwestern, 593 pp., £40.50, December 2010, 978 0 8101 2711 1
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Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004, The Joy of Cooking: [Airport Novel Musical Poem Painting Film Photo Hallucination Landscape] 
by Tan Lin.
Wesleyan, 224 pp., £20.50, May 2010, 978 0 8195 6929 5
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... tracing a line from Rimbaud through Futurism to Gertrude Stein, Wittgenstein, Frank O’Hara, John Cage and beyond – who have advanced what she sees as modernist goals: above all, the up-to-date, sceptical investigation of the materials and ideas from which a work of art gets made. Though much of Perloff’s writing concerns the great dead, she ...

If my sister’s arches fall

Laura Jacobs: Agnes de Mille, 6 October 2016

Dance to the Piper 
by Agnes de Mille.
NYRB, 368 pp., £11.99, February 2016, 978 1 59017 908 6
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... piece called Appalachian Spring in collaboration with Aaron Copland and Isamu Noguchi. In 1945, John Cage and Merce Cunningham would marry their exploratory sensibilities. All these artists were struggling, in the words of Lincoln Kirstein, who co-founded the New York City Ballet, ‘to impose a native meaning on a recalcitrant alien dance ...

Diary

James Davidson: Face to Face with Merce Cunningham, 2 November 2000

... collective movements clean when they performed at the Barbican last month.* Whereas in the work of John Cage, whose music often accompanied Cunningham’s dances, randomness seemed a rediscovery of the sounds found in ‘nature’, most notably in the sounds of the quiet concert hall with which he filled 4l33ll, there was nothing natural about ...

You’ve got three minutes

J. Hoberman: Sitting for Warhol, 20 July 2006

Andy Warhol Screen Tests: The Films of Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Vol. I 
by Callie Angell.
Abrams, 319 pp., £35, April 2006, 0 8109 5539 3
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... from time to time exhibit selected Screen Tests. The idea was already in the air. The neo-dadaist, John Cage-influenced Fluxus artists were already making similar perversely conceptual films. At least a year before Warhol began documenting faces for The 13 Most Beautiful Boys, the Icelandic political pop artist Erró, then based in New York, was at work ...

At MoMA

Hal Foster: Bruce Nauman, 20 December 2018

... a negative condition into a positive possibility. ‘I have nothing to say and I am saying it,’ John Cage wrote in 1949; two decades later Nauman said, in effect, ‘I have nothing to do and I am doing it.’ Although this formulation isn’t as dire as ‘I can’t go on, I’ll go on,’ Nauman does share with Samuel Beckett (another early ...

Diary

John Lanchester: Online Goodies, 25 April 2002

... the very computer on which I’m typing these words, and could knock you up a copy of the Shorter John Cage, gratis, in a matter of minutes); but recorded CDs are still expensive. The expense is, from the point of view of the record companies, pure profit. So the cartel loves CDs – why wouldn’t they? The high price of CDs kept sales a lot lower than ...

Boulez in progress

Paul Driver, 25 June 1987

Orientation 
by Pierre Boulez, edited by Jean-Jacques Nattiez, translated by Martin Cooper.
Faber, 541 pp., £25, July 1986, 9780571138111
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... Boulez is no doubt keenly aware. Among Boulez’s contemporaries, Stockhausen, Elliott Carter and John Cage are notably eloquent and prolific commentators on themselves. Boulez’s writing covers a considerable range: he is not just a theorist like Messiaen in Technique of My Musical Language or Hindemith in The Craft of Musical Composition, but also on ...

Shadow Detail

John Tranter, 25 June 1987

... pointing out details, the texture in the broad masses. And the ancient lift creaks up to its cage at the top of the building, a cage the wind visits and ...

Grey Panic

T.J. Clark: Gerhard Richter, 17 November 2011

... its long depressive state – into something beautiful as opposed to correct or clever. John Cage, for some of us, is an even lesser god than Duchamp, but in the final room at Tate, where a suite of big abstracts done under Cage’s auspices is hung, it does not matter. The imperfect lusciousness of the ...

Out of the Cage

Tom Nairn: Popping the bubble of American supremacy, 24 June 2004

After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order 
by Emmanuel Todd, translated by C. Jon Delogu.
Constable, 288 pp., £8.99, July 2004, 1 84529 058 5
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Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power 
by George Soros.
Weidenfeld, 207 pp., £12.99, January 2004, 0 297 84906 9
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... people, even if this meant ceaseless tensions and a permanent identity crisis. In 2001, when John Howard’s Liberal government was returned to power with an increased majority, it found the post-9/11 climate wholly sympathetic to its belief that further doses of nationalist purgative were required, in order to allay the strains of a still novel ...

Theory of Texts

Jerome McGann, 18 February 1988

Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts: The Panizzi Lectures 1985 
by D.F. McKenzie.
British Library, 80 pp., £10, December 1986, 0 7123 0085 6
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... Pound’s Cantos, the spatial innovations of Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, John Cage. But spatiality functions in other less obvious, if no less important ways. The formating of a printed text (book or otherwise), the conventions of book production which dictate what sorts of framing materials will be included (for instance, the ...

Late Picasso at the Tate

David Sylvester, 1 September 1988

... Byzantine frontality, is to be characterised by a phrase, I would single out a remark made by John Cage as he went round the exhibition, that he was struck by ‘the absence of tranquillity in a centred composition’. The late paintings seem to me to be divisible into three phases of unequal length – a head, a body and a short tail. The first ...

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