Seven Day Diary (Not Knowing), Day Five

Media - 2004.32.5.5 - SAAM-2004.32.5.5_1 - 68846
Copied John Cage, Seven Day Diary (Not Knowing), Day Five, 1978, hard and soft ground etching, drypoint, sugar aquatint, photo etching, and found objects, 1216 34 in. (30.542.5 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Moses Lasky, 2004.32.5.5

Artwork Details

Seven Day Diary (Not Knowing), Day Five
Crown Point Press
Not on view
1216 34 in. (30.542.5 cm)
lower left, in pencil: V 12/25 lower right, in pencil: John Cage on back, lower right, stamped in ink [black]: cpp (monogram) Crown Point Press / Stephen Thomas
Credit Line
Bequest of Moses Lasky
Mediums Description
hard and soft ground etching, drypoint, sugar aquatint, photo etching, and found objects
  • Abstract
Object Number

Artwork Description

John Cage began making prints after a long and distinguished career as a musical composer. When he was invited Crown Point Press in San Francisco, he called upon ideas and principles he had used as a musician: the development of an idea over time, reliance on chance, the privileging of process over representation, and what he called “the social habits of musicians…the division of labor.”
The title of this series refers to the seven-day period over which he made the prints, completing one each day. When he began, he did not know the technical aspects of the printmaking processes he was going to use, but learned them as he worked with assistance from the professional printers. Over the course of seven days, he tried all the processes available to him at Crown Point Press. He chose a paper he liked as well as the horizontal format and the size of the margins. He selected modest sized copper plates that floated within a twelve-inch central square, and determined the size and shape of his plates by consulting his I Ching charts. His attitudes developed from his studies of Zen Buddhism. By creating a sense of emptiness, he expressed visually the Zen state of “not knowing.”

Multiplicity, 2011