Gilt-Edge Art

James Lee Byars at Michael Werner Gallery is the Daily Pic by Blake Gopnik

The Daily Pic: James Lee Byars crafted art with the force of a fetish.

(Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York, Berlin and London)

This is “The Monument to Cleopatra”, a gilded marble solid made by the late James Lee Byars in 1988, now on view all by itself at the Michael Werner gallery uptown in New York. The piece has some of the quasi- (or pseudo-) mystical force of the monolith in Kubrick’s 2001. Whether or not you buy its apparent claims to transcendence, you have to credit Byars with having captured the feel of a fetish.

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