June 11, 2009 - MK Gallery - James Lee Byars in Venice
June 11, 2009

James Lee Byars in Venice

James Lee Byars
The Angel (1989)
Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, Berlin and New York
© Estate of James Lee Byars

James Lee Byars Lived Here
4 June – 5 July 2009

Palazzo Pesaro Papafava
Calle de la Rachetta
Cannaregio 3764
30121 Venice

www.mk-g.org

Presented by Milton Keynes Gallery, UK

Supported by the Arts Council England, Grants for the Arts, Michael Werner Gallery Berlin and New York, Turning Point South East and The University of Warwick

James Lee Byars Lived Here, organised by Milton Keynes Gallery, presents major works by James Lee Byars (1932-1997), and reflects his longstanding relationship with the city of Venice. Occupying the first floor of the Palazzo Pesaro Papafava in central Venice, James Lee Byars Lived Here runs from 4 June until 5 July 2009, during the Venice Biennale. Admission is free and the exhibition is open daily from noon to 6pm.

For Byars, the city of Venice represented the union of East and West, and he kept a home there for most of his life. One of the key works included in the exhibition is The Angel (1989), which has particular resonance in Venice. Displayed in its own gilded room at the Palazzo, this ethereal floor piece comprises 125 hand-blown Murano glass spheres, each fragile sphere formed by a single breath of the glass blower.

Born in Detroit, Byars (1932-1997) was one of the twentieth century’s most enigmatic artists. From the late 1950s until his death in Cairo, Byars made an expansive body of work in sculpture, installation, drawing and performance. A truly international artist, he led a nomadic lifestyle and was a regular commuter between America, Japan and Europe. He was particularly enamored with Venice, creating many works and performances in response to the city’s rich artistic context. Venice was central to the development of Byars’ practice and continues to contribute to his enduring myth and legacy.

The search for the ‘perfect’ provided the philosophical framework within which Byars conceived his many artworks, events and performances. His sculptures comprise simple and elemental geometric shapes: spheres, cylinders, cubes and cones, all made to his exacting standards in the finest glass, granite, marble, gold leaf and even red roses.

James Lee Byars Lived Here is presented by Milton Keynes Gallery (UK) in cooperation with Michael Werner Gallery Berlin and New York, and the Estate of James Lee Byars.

It has been curated by Michael Stanley, Director of Modern Art Oxford, (former Director of Milton Keynes Gallery) project managed by Paul Bradley and organised by Emma Dean. A concurrent exhibition James Lee Byars, continues in Milton Keynes until 21 June 2009 and will travel to MOCAD, Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, in autumn 2009.

The Angel and other works will be shown in the chapel at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in autumn 2009. www.ysp.co.uk Exhibition supported by the Henry Moore Foundation.

Palazzo Pesaro Papafava is centrally located in Venice, and is a 3 minute walk from the Ca’ d’Oro vaporetto stop on the Grand Canal, serviced by the Linea 1 water bus. The Palazzo is the teaching premises of Warwick University’s Warwick in Venice programme.

Milton Keynes Gallery opened in 1999 as the city’s purpose-built venue for exhibitions of international contemporary art. www.mk-g.org

Turning Point South East is the consortium of organisations and individuals in South East England which is developing and implementing Turning Point (2006), Arts Council England’s regional plan for the visual arts. Milton Keynes Gallery’s James Lee Byars Lived Here exhibition is one of three projects from South East England being presented during this year’s Venice Biennale.

Milton Keynes Gallery

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