John Cage Notations Project collection

Inclusive Dates: 
1884–1978 (bulk 1960–1969)
Survey Repository: 

This record forms part of the Chicago’s Art-Related Archival Materials: A Terra Foundation Resource project funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art. For this project, the Archives surveyed archival repositories throughout the Chicago region to identify art-related materials contained in their holdings. While the Archives of American Art does not own any of the materials described herein, information about those materials and links to the original repositories have been included when available.

Descriptive Summary

281 folders of material consisting of musical manuscripts and related material created by numerous composers, visual artists, performance artists, and writers for John Cage’s  Notations Project, as well as much of the correspondence generated around this project. Among the visual and performance artists represented in this collection are Marcel Duchamp, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, and Carolee Schneemann.

Biographical Historical Note

John Cage was a musical composer, theorist, writer, and artist and a seminal figure in the New York-based postwar avant-garde art scene. Cage began his Notations project in the mid-1960s, soliciting music manuscripts from hundreds of composers, visual artists, and writers for a book to benefit the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts.

Additional Notes

Related collections: John Cage Correspondence, 1901-1993, John Cage Correspondence addenda, 1941-1992, Dick Higgins Archive, and Carl Weissner Archives, Northwestern University Library.