James Lee Byars The Golden Tower
Venice Biennale 2017

James Lee Byars The Golden Tower
James Lee Byars The Golden Tower by Richard Ivey

James Lee Byars The Golden Tower. James Lee Byars’s grandest work The Golden Tower has arrived  in Venice, and it is safe to say it’s making quite the statement so far. Located right next to the Palazzo Cini, the artwork attracts Biennale 2017 visitors and city wanderers alike. Byars first fantasised about making the luxurious looking piece (which is more than 65 feet tall) back in 1976 and showed it in numerous iterations, yet never before has it been displayed outside in full scale.

“The Tower gives shape to a symbol of ascension, taking metaphorical aim towards the sacred mountain – a gilded machine to honour the gods,” says curator Alberto Salvadori, describing the work. “The splendour of gold hints at the symbol of the sun but also becomes a symbol of inner illumination, of intellectual knowledge and spiritual experience. A concept of divinity. That’s the deeper motivation in James Lee Byars’s use of gold … it is the ultimate symbol of greatness and the infinite.”As an official collateral project of the Venice Biennale,

James Lee Byars The Golden Tower is awaiting admirers in the Campo San Vio, a very brief walk from the Gallerie dell’Accademia. Rome’s Fondazione Giuliani is presenting the work with Michael Werner Gallery. Venice is a ‘city of gold’, from the the material embellished on the buildings and statues across the city to the newly installed Golden Tower.

Byars who lived in Venice for a period of time, had a deep connection to the city and so understood what would work amongst the beloved city. Wendy Dunaway (the artist’s widow) said her husband “conceived the idea for ‘The Golden Tower’ as a monument to humanity,” adding “Venice was both his home and a metaphor for East meeting West. I can’t imagine a more fitting tribute in these times.” The piece – in all it’s luxurious magnificence – is located in central Venice and so is pretty much impossible to miss! So if you ever do get the chance to see it, whether that be passing by in a gondola down the Grand Canal or getting up close to admire the work, definitely don’t miss out on taking a look at James Lee Byars’ golden masterpiece. Maiya Sicklin

James Lee Byars The Golden Tower
James Lee Byars The Golden Tower by Richard Ivey