View of “James Lee Byars: I Cancel All My Works at Death,” 2014.

“James Lee Byars: I Cancel All My Works at Death”

Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD)

View of “James Lee Byars: I Cancel All My Works at Death,” 2014.

“Just make me up!” James Lee Byars is said to have instructed Thomas McEvilley as he prepared an essay on the artist for this publication in 1981, and that is exactly what Triple Candie (curatorial duo Shelly Bancroft and Peter Nesbett) did at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Taking their cue as well as the exhibition’s title from Byars’s proclamation “I Cancel All My Works at Death,” the organizers, in conversation with guest curator Jens Hoffmann, populated a gallery with editorialized adaptations of the artist’s work. A brick wall at the entrance glittered with gold paint, in homage to Byars’s use of gold throughout his career—from his costumery of gold lamé to his gilding of the curb in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (The Gold Curb, 1970) to the gold leaf-embossed tomb of The Death of James Lee Byars, 1982/1994. But here, painted over the

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