'James Lee Byars (April 10, 1932, Detroit, Michigan, USA - May 23, 1997, Cairo, Egypt), was one of the twentieth century's most enigmatic artists. He emerged alongside a generation of artists such as Joseph Beuys and Marcel Broodthaers, who reinvigorated contemporary artistic practices with their own brand of conceptualism. From the late 1950s until his death, Byars made an expansive body of work in sculpture, installation, drawing, performance and mail art. A truly international artist, he led a nomadic lifestyle and was a regular commuter between America, Japan and Europe.'
'After studying art and philosophy, Byars moved to Kyoto in 1958, where he spent much of the next decade. Influenced by aspects of Japanese Noh theater and Shinto rituals, Byars created and performed folded paper works at sites including Japanese temples and New York City galleries, and made fabric pieces that served as costumes to join together two or more people in public performances. Throughout his career, he also produced a large quantity of printed books, ephemera and correspondence that he distributed among friends and acquaintances. Dispersed across a wide geography, they attest to Byars’s desire to be present—however fleetingly—in different places and times.'
An informative article on the sculptural aspects of his work you find here: The Art of Happenstance, by Klaus Ottmann. James Lee Byars' estate is represented by Michael Werner Gallery