James Lee Byars – Three collections

James Lee Byars was a nomadic artist. Born in America and profoundly influenced by ten years in Japan, he was received in Europe with open arms. At first he concentrated mainly on performance art; later he produced more tangible works as well. Three shows in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen featured important collections owned by Flor Bex, Wies Smals and Carlos Becerra. The archives contain work by Byars that has never been shown before.

A regular catalogue wouldn't fit with this philosophical artist. Instead of one complete book, the information is spread over three specific and one general tabloid-sized paper. The design tries to do justice to Byars borderless and sensitive way of working, and his obsession with absence.


Flor Bex and Wies Smals

The first exhibition featured the archives of Flor Bex of Antwerp’s International Cultural Centre of Wies Smals of De Appel art centre in Amsterdam. Among the first to support Byars, they were in contact with him from the early 1970s. Their collections focus on unusually designed letters on different kinds of paper in a variety of shapes, from circles to triangles, hearts and strings, always in the characteristic colours of red, pink, black and gold.

Carlos Becerra

The second exhibition features artworks from the collection of the poet, artist and collector Carlos Becerra. He and James Lee Byars met in the early 1990s in Brussels and forged a strong friendship and relationship of trust. Becerra was closely involved in ‘The Death of James Lee Byars’. The tangible results are drawings, designs, models and more than four hundred photos that Becerra took of each stage of the preparation.


You may also like...