Press Releases

Date of Release: 
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Contact Info: 

Katie Kazan, Director of Public Information
608.257.0158 x 237 or

Jane Simon, Curator of Exhibitions
608.257.0158 x 226 or
High-resolution images are available upon request.

Cage and Cunningham Chance, Time, and Concept in the Visual Arts

Cage and Cunningham
Chance, Time, and Concept in the Visual Arts

October 24, 2009–May 9, 2010

MADISON, WI--Cage and Cunningham: Chance, Time, and Concept in the Visual Arts pays homage to the visual legacy inspired by the life and work of composer, poet, and artist John Cage (1912–1992) and dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham (1919–2009). The exhibition pays tribute to Cage and Cunningham's fifty-year collaboration through works from the permanent collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as seminal works from collections in the region. 

The exhibition will be on view in the museum's State Street Gallery from October 24, 2009, through May 9, 2010.

On October 23, the museum and the Center for the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will collaborate to present “Cunningham/Bausch: A Tribute,” a panel discussion exploring the legacy of dancers Merce Cunningham and Pina Bausch, who also died this year. Panelists will include UW-Madison faculty members Andrea Harris (Professor of Dance); Michael Jay McClure (Professor of Contemporary Art and Theory); and Jin-Wen Yu (Professor of Dance); as well as MMoCA curator of exhibitions Jane Simon. The panel will be moderated by Caroline Levine (Professor of English). The panel discussion is free and open to the public. 

Cage and Cunningham: Chance, Time, and Concept in the Visual Arts features paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by artists who were contemporaries of Cage and Cunningham, as well as younger artists who continue their legacy. Nader Ahrimann, Anni Albers, Joseph Beuys and Ken Friedman, Jonathan Borofsky, Don Boyd, John Cage, Bruce Conner, Trisha Donnelly, Dick Higgins, Jasper Johns, Allan Kaprow, Alison Knowles, George Maciunas, Natasha Nicholson, Robert Rauschenberg, Steve Reich, Stan Shellabarger, ellsworth snyder, and Pat Steir, are among the artists represented in the exhibition. Many of the works selected for the exhibition by Jane Simon were contributed to the museum by ellsworth snyder (1931–2005), a Madison resident who was a friend and protégé of John Cage.

John Cage and Merce Cunningham met in the early 1940s. Through their numerous collaborations, and in their life together, these artistic leaders explored the intersections of dance and music; poetry, language, and visual art; and art and life. By demonstrating the independence of dance from music and incorporating non-western thinking and non-programmed foundations, such as chance, in their art, Cage and Cunningham laid groundwork for scores of artists in the latter half of the twentieth century.


Hours at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art are Tuesday–Thursday (noon–5 pm); Friday (noon–8 pm); Saturday (10 am–8 pm); and Sunday (noon–5 pm). 

Admission to exhibitions at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is free of charge. MMoCA is an independent museum supported through memberships and through generous contributions and grants from individuals, corporations, agencies, and foundations. Important support is also generated through auxiliary group programs; special events; rental of the museum's lobby, lecture hall, and rooftop garden; and sales through the Museum Store.

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