Highlights of Thirty-Five Years
Figuration and Its Meaning
Conceptual Art and Its Affinities
Diebenkorn and Cage
Tribute to Richard Diebenkorn
and John Cage (Room 6 of 6)
On view in this gallery are prints by John Cage (1912-1992) and Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993), whose deaths within a year of each other presented a powerful double loss to Kathan Brown of two mentors and friends.
After making etchings with Brown in the early 1960s, Diebenkorn came back to Crown Point Press in 1977, returning almost annually for the rest of his life. His first group of etchings was made fairly quickly; he worked directly on copper while looking at a model, a still life, or a view from a window. The later prints are often more technically complex, having been reworked over several sessions to create layered tactile qualities. Starting in 1977, most of his etchings are an extended meditation on the Ocean Park theme he also explored in painting. From 1980, they tend to lush and complex areas of color, the hallmark of his late style. Other late etchings include the Clubs and Spades series, which employed iconic forms that rarely appear in his paintings.
John Cage first came to Crown Point Press on New Year's Day, 1978, and he, too, returned almost every year. Best known for music compositions that defied conventional rules of harmony, Cage's art, like his music, resulted from what he referred to as "chance operations." His artistic decisions were based on the I Ching, the ancient Chinese Book of Changes, composed of sixty-four hexagrams accompanied by texts suggesting various interpretations or possible actions. Cage adopted a similar system of incorporating chance effects into his prints by using a computer simulation of a coin toss as part of his creative process. Many of Cage's techniques were unorthodox, such as his use of smoked paper: he ignited fires on the press bed, which were extinguished as damp paper was set upon it and passed through the press. He also branded his sheets with hot metal to create openings in the paper. Most of his impressions are unique variants rather than part of consistent editions.
Copyright © 2008 National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC