Not Wanting to Say Anything About Marcel Plexigram VII, 1969

Basel 2015
James Cohan Gallery
Screenprint on eight Plexiglas panels with walnut base
Cage’s first visual artwork, Not Wanting to Say Anything About Marcel (1969), was created to honor the passing of his friend and mentor, Marcel Duchamp.  Each of the eight “Plexigrams” is comprised of silkscreened Plexiglas panels. Through chance operations, Cage randomly selected words and numbers from the dictionary and transposed them onto Plexiglas in a disintegrating composition. Assembled together, the Plexigrams resemble a translucent tombstone with ghostly, fading inscriptions. The title refers to a comment Jasper Johns made to Cage when artists were encouraged to respond in memoriam to Duchamp’s death, “I don’t want to say anything about Marcel.”  Duchamp’s iconic The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass), (1915–23) as well as Robert Rauschenberg’s Revolvers (1967) had a significant impact on Cage’s thinking when conceiving of this suite of works.