new-york

James Lee Byars, The Monument to Cleopatra, 1988, gilded marble, gilded wood, glass, 27 1/4 x 25 3/4 x 59 1/4".

James Lee Byars

Michael Werner | New York

James Lee Byars, The Monument to Cleopatra, 1988, gilded marble, gilded wood, glass, 27 1/4 x 25 3/4 x 59 1/4".

Throughout his long career, the great American mythmaker and Conceptualist James Lee Byars produced performances, sculptures, and installations that contained irreverent allusions to his own demise, from the performance This Is a Call from the Ghost of James Lee Byars, 1969, which involved a paper triangle printed with the request PLEASE LIMIT ALL TALKING TO THE SOUND OF O, to The Death of James Lee Byars, 1994, for which the artist rendered himself “invisible” by donning a gilt lamé suit inside a gold-leaf-covered room. Byars’s vanishing acts toyed with notions of spectacle and publicity—ploys that became highly influential. Consider, for instance, such artists as Maurizio Cattelan, whose recent retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York served as the conclusion of his artistic life (and included All, 2007, a Byarsesque work of nine cloth-draped corpses

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the November 2012 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.