James Lee Byars
1932 - 1997

JAMES LEE BYARS spent a decade (1957-67) living on and off in Japan, where he taught English to Buddhist monks and nuns.

Beginning with his trips to Asia, but also drawing on advanced scientific research, Byars developed a personal visual style based on forms like circles, spheres, cylinders, and pyramids, which are simple yet contain profound symbolic value.

He also began using materials and colors associated with the symbolic plane, such as marble, velvet, or black and gold.


"BYARS-James Lee, internationally renowned artist whose work concentrated on minimal hermetic forms, reduction towards essence and absence, and an acute sense of the ephemeral, died on Thursday, May 23, 1997, at the Anglo-American hospital in Cairo, Egypt. He was 65 years old."

The New York Times, May 24, 1997

Further Reading on Edge:

The World Question Center — Dedicated to the memory of James Lee Byars

"He Confuses 1 and 2 the 200 I.Q.: Mr. Byars by Mr. Brockman

"James Lee Byars: A Study In Posterity" By Thomas McEvilley

"The Death of James Lee Byars (1982/94)" at the Guggenheim

Beyond Edge:

James Lee Byars at the Whitney (Artopia)