press release

Exhibition and performances at the Palazzo Pesaro Papafava in Venice Concurrent with the Venice Biennale Opening Reception and Performance 3 June at 6 pm

Michael Werner Gallery is pleased to announce James Lee Byars Lived Here, organized by Milton Keynes Gallery. This exhibition presents major works of the artist that bear a direct connection to his relationship to Venice. James Lee Byars Lived Here will be on view 4 June through 5 July 2009 at the Palazzo Pesaro Papafava on the Calle de la Rachetta in Venice.

For Byars, the city of Venice represented the union of East and West, and he kept a home there for most of his life. A highlight of the exhibition will be performances of Five Points Make a Man, which grew out of other works Byars created in Venice and will be realized in the city for the first time. It will be performed daily during the first week of the exhibition, coinciding with the Venice Biennale Vernissage.

One of the key works included in the exhibition is The Angel (1989), which has particular resonance in Venice. The ethereal floor piece is comprised of 125 hand-blown Murano glass spheres, each fragile sphere formed by a single breath of the glass blower. The Angel is being displayed in its own gilded room at the Palazzo Papafava.

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 in the United Kingdom, in cooperation with Michael Werner Gallery and the Estate of James Lee Byars, and is organized by Michael Stanley, Director of Modern Art Oxford, and former Director of Milton Keynes Gallery. The exhibition is supported by the Arts Council England, Grants for the Arts. A concurrent Byars exhibition is on view at the Milton Keynes Gallery and will travel to MOCAD, Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, in the fall of 2009.

James Lee Byars Lived Here is open daily from noon to 6pm at Palazzo Pesaro Papafava, Calle de la Rachetta, Cannaregio 3764 in Venice. Performances of Five Points Make a Man on 3 June at 6:00 pm and 4, 5 and 6 June at 2:00 pm.

Palazzo Pesaro Papafava is centrally located in Venice, and is a three minute walk from the Ca d'Oro vaporetto stop on the Grand Canal, serviced by the number 1 water bus.

James Lee Byars Lived Here
presented by Milton Keynes Gallery, in cooperation with Michael Werner Gallery and the Estate of James Lee Byars
Kurator: Michael Stanley