The Intellectual Murderer Shoes

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James Lee Byars

1975

Installation, 23 x 33 x 13 cm.
Materials: fabric, shoes

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp / Collection Flemish Community (Inv. no. BK7671_M426).

Byars’ art is a cerebral art, an aesthetics of thought immersed in an atmosphere of immateriality. He emphatically rejects the idea of interpreting works of art in the light of what is already known, as this hampers the process of free thinking. This idea is also present in The Intellectual Murderer Shoes. The reality of the object, in combination with the title, can evoke images of murder scenes with experts in enveloped shoes, or of Byars as a mystic and alchemist who frequently dressed up in a gold suit and a black magician’s hat and shoes. Byars regarded works of art as images in themselves, as objects which as a symbol are cut off from any sort of reference. Guessing their origin would signify a form of classification and this is useless and wasteful. Byars’ personal vocabulary and visual idiom is also unmistakable in The Intellectual Murderer Shoes. The monochrome blackness, the sense of materiality and the simplicity of the whole reveal the paradox between Byars’ pursuit of perfection and the ephemeral character of his work.

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