New Yorker critic and The Rest Is Noise author Alex Ross visits the John Cage exhibit currently at the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, and writes, in part:
The great oddity of twentieth-century art history is that while Rauschenberg, Jackson Pollock, and other radical postwar painters are almost universally hailed as masters, their works drawing huge crowds in museums, Cage is still often treated as a freak or a charlatan. The distinction makes no intellectual sense, but there it is.
The conclusion that Ross draws has its parallel in the argument that is the substance of David Stubbs‘s recent book, Fear of Music: Why People Get Rothko but Don’t Get Stockhausen. The photo of Cage, above, circa 1958, by Aram Avakian, is taken from the free downloadable brochure for the exhibit (PDF). Cage had his own battery of defenses, and one such axiomatic comment opens the PDF: “If this word, music, is sacred … we can substitute a more meaningful term: organization of sound.”