James Lee Byars

Born in Detroit

In Japan, where he lived for ten years between the 1950s and 1960s, Byars discovered the notion of ephemeral, which he considers a particular quality of art. This had a major role to play in his decision to transfer sensory, abstract and symbolic elements of Japanese Nô theatre and Shintō ritual to Western knowledge, art and philosophy. Byars embodies a synthesis of different movements—orientalism, Conceptual art, Minimalism, and Fluxus. His luxurious sculptures, works on paper, and performances question the boundaries between art and life, and the importance of living intensely. He usually dressed in outfits made of fabric such as gold lamé, black and red silk, and often wore a black hat and a black mask.

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