New York Antiquarian Book Fair. Part 3: Artists’ Books and Special Items.

James Lee Byars – J* Read to Peachy Keen Forme …, 1972 . A beautiful example of a James Lee Byars’ unique original letter art object. Byars’ text, written in his usual stream of consciousness, abbreviated style, communicates several ideas in parallel and extends in a single line along the centre of the sheets for nearly 3 metres. Consists of four conjoined sheets of thick gold metallic paper. An important part of Byars’ oeuvre, influenced by his years living in Japan and the resulting interest in Japanese paper, calligraphy and origami, was the letter as art work, the object and idea in harmony, and the example presented here, to Byars’ friend Jim Butler, with calligraphic text on gold paper with characteristic divagations and abbreviations, is delightfully representative. ‘Byars did, however, maintain communication with many important people in the art world, by means of an artistic correspondence that seems to have been his most consistent practise as an artist. Nearly every day, before dawn, he would rise and begin writing his spectacular letters … They were an extension of the Byars persona, even mirroring his costumes in their strict use of a few select colours and shapes. They were simply mystifying, difficult to read, confusing in their syntax even where legible; Byars was unknown because he was unknowable. One might delight in (or be maddened by) the experience of unfolding a fifty foot long piece of pink tissue paper, only to find the gold writing nearly indecipherable, and the message as much a poetic epigram as a personal communication. One is meant to experience the letters as an aesthetic occasion … ‘. (Frieze magazine, review of the exhibition ‘James Lee Byars: Letters from the World’s Most Famous Unknown Artist’). @Sims Reed Rare Book Shop

(more…)

Advertisements