James Lee Byars
Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan
October, 2023 – March, 2024
James Lee Byars (b. Detroit, Michigan, 1932 – d. Cairo, 1997) was one of the most renowned American artists from the 1960s, whose work combines motifs and symbols from eastern cultures, such as Nô theatre and Zen Buddhism, together with his profound knowledge of western art and philosophy.
Spanning installation, sculpture, performance, drawing, and speech, the artist has created a singular body of work that explores the boundary between body and spirit, the notions of community and mysticism through ephemeral actions, public engagement and large-scale interventions.
The first retrospective exhibition in an Italian museum, it will present a wide array of his most emblematic works that blend geometric and minimal forms with rare materials such as marble, velvet, precious woods and gold-leaf.
Many of the world’s most important institutions have exhibited the work of James Lee Byars, among which Red Brick Art Museum, Beijing (2021); SCAI The Bathhouse, Tokyo (2020 and 1994); M HKA, Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (2018); MoMA PS1, New York, Museo Marino Marini, Florence (2014); Museo Jumex, Mexico City (2013); Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (2011 and 1964); Kunstmuseum Bern (2008); MoMA Museum of Modern Art, New York (2007 and 1958); Barbican Centre, London (2005); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt am Main, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams (2004); Museu Serralves, Porto, (1997); Fondation Cartier pour l’art Contemporain, Paris (1995); IVAM Centre del Carme, Valencia, Museum Ludwig, Cologne (1994); Stockholm Konsthall (1992); Castello di Rivoli, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Turin (1989); Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (1986); Philadelphia Museum of Art, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (1984); Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1983); De Appel Foundation, Amsterdam (1978); Kunsthalle Bern, Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard, Cambridge (1978); Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk (1977); Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (1974); Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1971). He has participated in various group exhibitions, including Venice Biennale (2013, 1999, 1986, 1980); Yokohama Triennale (2011); and documenta, Kassel (1987, 1982, 1977, 1972).