Composer and visual artist John Cage created this work to honor his friend Marcel Duchamp, the French-American artist who died in 1968. The title derives from a conversation the artist had with Jasper Johns. When prompted to respond to Duchamp’s death, Johns replied that he didn’t want to say anything. Cage is similarly known for incorporating silence in his musical compositions.
Like Duchamp, Cage embraced chance outcomes in this work: the placement of imagery was determined by the Chinese I Ching system, and the panels are arranged in a different order each time the work is shown. American art of the 1960s increasingly featured text as advertising culture infiltrated the art world.