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May 9 2020
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Mushrooms have been muses to artists from Beatrix Potter to Cy Twombly to Takashi Murakami. For the avant-garde artist and composer John Cage, foraging for them became a way of life: “I have come to the conclusion that much can be learned about music by devoting oneself to the mushroom,” he wrote. A new book combines a reproduction of Cage’s limited-edition 1972 Mushroom Book of recipes, observations, and illustrations (authored with illustrator Lois Long and botanist Alexander H. Smith) with new photographs and writings, paying homage to Cage’s fascination and its influence on his work. “As a demanding gourmet sees but does not purchase the marketed mushroom,” he writes, “so a lively musician reads from time to time the announcements of concerts and stays quietly at home.” We’re all in John Cage’s shoes now. —Julia Vitale

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