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Book Arts: Composers

Subject-specific lists of book arts materials available in Special Collections at the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library

Bookworks inpsired by composers

John Cage


John Cage was an influential composer and philosopher, known for his work with experimental music.  He was interested in noise and created complex compositions to explore the relationship between music and noise.  Cage was also a visual artist, but his work in music composition, performance, and chance operations was most influential to the many visual artists who are inspired by his creative output. 


Ad libitum / Composers, in the order of appearance: Tara Godzich, Hiliary Green, Siwaraya Rochanahusdin, Joel Freeman, Jade Finlinson, Sydney Brown, Tayler Miller, Lauren Sampson, with the help of Prof. Kitty Maryatt. Claremont, CA: Scripps College Press, 2012. Arts Library Special Collections call number Z232.S37 A3 2012 (LC)


This accordion fold book is a class project supervised by Professor Kitty Maryatt, produced at the Scripps College Press, and inspired by Cage’s 1969 book Notations that collects visual documentation of experimental music. 


Angela Lorenz. Cage--4 notes in 33 variations. Bologna, Italy: Angela Lorenz, [2010]. Arts Library Special Collections call number NJ18.L837 A12 2010B (LC)


The small object is part of a series of conceptual bookworks by Angela Lorenz, collectively called Light Verse Magazine.  This piece “Cage--4 notes in 33 variations” is the mechanical part of a music box that plays the notes C-A-G-E.  The title references one of Cage’s compositions that directs a musician or group of musicians to “produce no intentional sounds” for 4 minutes and 33 seconds.



Erik Satie


Julie Chen and Barbara Tetenbaum. Ode to a Grand Staircase (For Four Hands). Berkeley, CA: Flying Fish Press and Portland, OR: Triangular Press, 2001. Arts Library Special Collections call number Z232 F68 Z9 C445 2001 (LC)


In Ode to a Grand Staircase, Tetenbaum and book artist Julie Chen used a composition by avant-garde composer Erik Satie to focus the blind collaboration process. Each artist worked on the prints alone, then sent them to the other, who reworked the plates.  When returned, the receiver would not know what had been done and would then respond to the other’s work.  The prints were bound into a modified accordion format that allows multiple readings of the layered imagery.