MoMA Buys Nothing

11.16.12 Marina Galperina

MoMA has purchased an important musical manuscript “consisting of just three folded sheets of almost blank onionskin paper” that translates to nothing.

Ok. Joke’s over. It’s actually one of the most important conceptual avant-garde pieces OF ALL TIME. John Cage’s 4’33” was first performed in Woodstock, NY in the ’50s in an open-air auditorium. Following the musical notation — 4 minutes and 33 seconds of pure silence — the pianist did nothing, while the audience listened to wind, the rain, and their own confused muttering, becoming hyperaware of their environment. 4’33” has, since then, been performed in concert halls and museums world-wide. MoMA has purchased the earliest existing notation of the work, earlier than that one above. It goes on view in the summer.

Related: Nicolas Cage does John Cage, gives me feelings.