Thursday, May 25, 2006

james byars

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Look! A Detroit native at Mary Boone Gallery in ny! Born in detroit in 1932 and went to Wayne State!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read about him on your blog several months ago. Remember?

Lots on him over at MONA site's Detroit Codex:

James Lee Byars

Born 10 April in Detroit

1936 -1940s
At age four, receives a tuxedo from his parents to wear on special occasions.
Attends Edgar Allan Poe School.

Studies art and philosophy at Wayne State University and attends Merrill Palmer School for Human Development in Detroit.

Byars empties his family's house of all furniture, doors, and windows to display large, spherical stones for a one-day thesis exhibition.

Rents a sod farm for the exhibition of his abstract figure sculptures at midnight under a full moon. Invited guests view sculptures from sleds pulled over the snow.

Lives with a patron in Detroit who commissions a garden for his backyard. Admiring neighbors offer Byars a one year travel stipend.

Travels to Japan, where he lives in Kyoto, while frequently visiting other areas. Studies art, philosophy, and language, and supports himself teaching English. Meets Morris Graves and aristocrat Yanagi Soetsu, Director of Tokyo Folk Art Museum, whose letter of introduction permits him to study with ceramics and papermaking masters. Performs a series of events influenced by Zen, inviting students or friends to participate. Byars will remain in Japan for ten years, traveling often to the United States.

On his first return trip, sees work of Mark Rothko at Cranbrook Academy of Art near Detroit and hitchhikes to New York to meet the artist. At the Museum of Modern Art, he requests an introduction to Rothko. Dorothy Miller, meets with Byars, buys two paper works, and allows him an exhibition lasting a few hours in an emergency stairwell at MoMA.

The Black Figure, an abstract rendering of the human form (a treatment Byars later calls »arbitrization«). Explores the nature of the ephemeral, asserts that concept alone is sufficient. Abandons durable materials for paper and fabric.

At Kyoto University produces Thanks for All Thought? in which one hundred students standing in a circle recite one hundred lines by Gertrude Stein. Receives William Copley Prize, Cassandra Foundations New York. For The Tantric Figures, drills two holes for eyes in each of two similar stones found in a granite quarry. Performs a piece consisting of studying one hundred eggs for twelve days to find the roundest, whitest egg.

Ten Philosophical Sentences, or The Exhibition of What Do you know Mister, at Jisha University, Kyoto, introducing Byars theme of Question. Dorothy Miller promotes his work in New York.

In Japan, creates large performable paper works, inspired by Zen and Noh theater, in which solid geometric shapes are slowly unfolded by a performer. In New York, distributes thousands of clear balloons printed white with tiny question marks.

Leaves from Los Angeles to New York on a 99-day, $ 99 bus trip, performing actions along the route. One-day exhibition at Green Gallery, New York, in which the gallery is painted black and illuminated with a single light bulb. One hundred white boxes made by Chinese artist, each delivered to the gallery by a Chinese child, are shown as stands for pieces. Andy Warhol attends exhibition. Byars requests an aircraft from the Federal Aviation Agency from which to drop a ten-mile-long sheet of paper, but is refused. Dressed in black, acts as a mute servant for a day to a stranger he meets on the bus. Chooses the most egg-shaped passenger. With a policeman, performs Twelve-hour Bus Trip for Two throughout the American South. Paper works exhibited at Shokokuji Monastery in Kyoto; one piece, A 1,000 Foot White Chinese Paper, folded like an accordion, is unfolded by a woman in ceremonial dress into an oval shape.

The Performable Square, a giant paper piece which, when folded, reduces to 1 1/2 feet per side. The work, exhibited in the empty gallery of the in the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, is not unfolded, but visitors are presented with white fans. In New York, produces embossed cellophane announcement for James Lee Byars at the Castelli Gallery, November 11. To the annoyance of Leo Castelli, these invitations are mailed without informing the gallery.

While making a thousand-foot-long pink paper tribute to Shakespeare in Central Park, Byars meets Gordon Bailey Washburn, Director of the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. At Washburn's invitation, Byars presents three performances in the museum's sculpture court during the Carnegie International. In the first of these, the one-hour 1x 50 Foot Drawing, a Catholic nun carries a paper piece to the center of the court, slowly and delicately unfolds it into a cross shape, then refolds it.

Second and third actions presented at Carnegie: A 1,000-Foot Chinese Paper performed by a nun, and A Mile-long Paper Walk by dancer Lucinda Childs dressed in an ostrich-feather costume.

Peace performed in the Kyoto garden of Byars's friend and patron, British Shakespeare professor William Lindley Hubbell. At midnight, a Japanese woman dressed in white feathers appears in the garden and silently hands the astonished Hubbell a tiny sheet of paper on which is written »peace« in the smallest letter legible to the human eye. In New York, Byars lives for several months in a hallway of the apartment of architect Robert Landsman. Anonymously donates large paper works to museums.

Unable to secure new teaching positions in Japan, Byars leaves for Los Angeles with no intention of returning (to Japan). Staying with Stanley and Elyse Grinstein in L.A., on most mornings he places a pile of fan-folded computer paper on their piano bench and remains seated on the bench until he has written a phrase on each sheet. Prepares an all-white meal at the Grinsteins'. .....

The Spherical Book, 1981- 1983
Berne sandstone, wood, glass
sculpture, Ø 27 cm; display case, 175 x 146 x 46 cm
Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea

next few decades to be updated.

When The Monument of Language is presented at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, a man inside the sphere reads from the writings of W.B. Yeats. Performs The Santa Fe River with Peter Ehlers and Joan Halifax on the shore of the eponymous river. Byars and Ehlers, dressed identically in white linen suits, black top hats, and black blindfolds represent the Saint of the Santa Fe river. As Halifax reads out from Lao Tzu, »Water is the highest good« Ehlers collects litter from the river in a black silk bag and Byars stands among the onlookers. Travels to Japan. In Tokyo proposes an exhibition, The Treasures of James Lee Byars, which is not realized. In Nara, makes a daily pilgrimage to the Todaiji temple to place a grain of rice on the belly of the fifty-foot gilt statue of Buddha. A performance at the Nara Hotel, includes Byars showing his works one by one, then entertaining Zenlike questions from the audience.

Plans to make a black silk carpet, The Dialectic for the End of Race. Also plans Monument to the End of Race, a ten-square-meter black rug woven from goat hair. Proposes it be submitted to the Holocaust memorial discussions in Berlin. Demands that Michael Werner be made Minister of Culture for Germany. Travels to Cairo in February. Commissions weavers for the Monument to the End of Race . Becomes ill from cancer, which he has been fighting for several years. Discusses with McEvilly, who visits him, his desire to construct the perfect sphere. Dies on 23 May, and is buried in Egypt.

10:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed re-reading this fascinating time line of Byars' life! When I took design classes with Olga Constantine at Wayne as a young art student, she used to talk quite a bit about James Lee when he was one of her he used to dress up, how he painted things gold.......

10:14 AM  
Blogger no-where-man said...

James Lee Byars: The Rest is Silence
was 3 parts also at
Michael Werner Gallery (boones former husband) and Perry Rubenstein Gallery

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the MCA in Chicago re-opened in its new building a few years ago, James Lee Byars' large gold globe greeted visitors first off.

Maybe we could borrow it for MOCAD's?!

8:49 PM  

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