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Article

Simon Anderson

Not a movement so much as an attitude or artistic position bound up with Modernism itself, anti-art is opposition to art from within: negative responses by artists to coercive constraints or perceived orthodoxy in the creative realm. Dada and Fluxus were groups closely associated with anti-art, but as a contrarian attitude rather than a movement, it has taken many forms since the late 19th century, from a rhetorical proposition to a life of dedicated activism. Although not aligned with religious iconophobia or fundamentalist iconoclasm; destruction, political action, and impiety are among common characteristics, along with often acerbic humor. Born of Modernism, at the extremity of those rejections or refusals that shaped and closed the era, anti-art shadowed and made visible some contradictions in aesthetics and in capitalist culture.

Insults to convention were common by 1896, when Stephane Mallarme’s poem Un Coup de Des audaciously broke the rules of prosody and Alfred Jarry’s ...

Article

American experimental music class held by John Cage in New York. Although Cage had been faculty at the New School for Social Research (called the University in Exile in the period of and immediately after World War II, and subsequently, The New School University) since the early 1950s, team-teaching with his early mentor Henry Cowell (1897–1965), his critical tenure there was 1956–1960. It was in these years that his own work was hitting its greatest strides, and his dynamic classes reflected as much. The class focused on Cage’s most exploratory moves in music, not only his own trajectory—informed by Marcel Duchamp, Zen, and the international postwar avant-garde scene—but also new developments at Darmstadt (whether he was for them or against them), the world epicenter for exploratory musical work, which was driven by a younger generation mostly engaged with new sound technology.

Cage’s pedagogical modus operandi was surprising, in part due to his strikingly “low-tech” means. He was known for exemplifying the spatialization of sound, and its capacity for constant change, by such methods as placing a pencil—rubber eraser pointing down—between the strings of the New School classroom piano, to show students how, via direct alterations to the source, sound could be ...