Thomas McEvilley

  • NEGATIVE PRESENCES IN SECRET SPACES: THE ART OF ERIC ORR

    I am against painting and sculpture and what they stand for . . . The studio mind is better abolished. . .

    I’m interested in the stuff you don’t see but it’s really there.

    —Eric Orr1

    ERIC ORR FIRST EXHIBITED as an artist in 1964, in the student center of the University of Cincinnati. The work was a Colt .45 automatic pistol mounted on a stand at eye level for a seated person, facing a wooden chair. The hammer was in cocked position; the trigger was wired to a treadle where the right foot of a person seated in the chair might comfortably rest. Seated there, one gazed down the muzzle of the gun

  • YVES KLEIN, MESSENGER OF THE AGE OF SPACE

    If you come back someday

    You who dream also

    Of this marvellous void

    Of this absolute love

    I know that together

    Without a word to one another

    We will hurl ourselves

    Into the reality of this void

    Which awaits our love

    As I wait for you each day . . .

    Come with me into the void!


    —Yves Klein1

    THE MOST FAMOUS IMAGE OF Yves Klein—the startling photograph of the artist, dressed in business suit and necktie, leaping into flight from a second-floor ledge on a quiet Paris street—is usually seen out of context. Yet with Klein, context is everything. Originally part of a literary document, the photograph

  • Eric Orr

    Eric Orr’s work belongs to the tradition of art that seeks to penetrate the zone of immateriality. His early works—buried lights, walled-in sounds, shadows, silences—attempted to designate a mysterious edge between dissolution and solidity, immaterial and material, where contradictions push and pull into a primal balance; his “light-and-space” installations of the seventies extended this preoccupation, attempting to dissolve awareness of spatial and temporal boundaries. Similar themes informed a series of wall objects that used shamanic and alchemical materials (lead and gold; human blood, bone,

  • James Lee Byars and the Atmosphere of Question

    ‘How does he question and how does he eat?’1

    IN APRIL, 1969, THE GALLERY Wide White Space in Antwerp presented a month of continuously changing performance pieces by James Lee Byars. During the final week Byars himself was on display, seated in a Thonet chair in the all-white gallery, writing questions, enigmatic statements and fragments of autobiography on separate sheets of paper. Framed in his unusual personal brand of “abbrev” English, these tiny word sculptures encapsulated enormous philosophical implications. When a visitor appeared, Byars would read aloud the last written question or