1912-1992

Pictured with Merce Cunningham

John Cage never did quite come out of the closet. Nonetheless, nearly everybody in the art world who knew him knew of his lifelong relationship with Merce Cunningham, and some even about the other men in his life. His sexuality was a kind of open secret within the avant-garde, and, as his fame spread, so too did knowledge of his personal life. Still, direct public acknowledgement of Cage's sexuality was, until quite recently, hard to find, consigned to the realm of gossip and understood to be tangential to his historical import and achievements. Cage himself, while never denying his sexuality, preferred instead to duck the question: when asked to characterize his relationship with Merce, he would say, "I cook and Merce does the dishes." [link]

John Cage with Merce Cunningham slightly behind him, looking back and smiling at a serious Cage.