James Lee Byars and Stephan Köhler showing an exhibition plan drawn on a napkin at Miyako Hotel, Kyoto, 1997. Photo: Masahiro Aoki

Event Public Program

Lee Byars

26 October 2023 – 7.00pm

Lecture by Stephan Köhler

The Public Program devoted to James Lee Byars’s exhibition opens on Thursday 26 October at 7 PM with a lecture by Stephan Köhler, art historian and long-time collaborator of James Lee Byars.

Stephan Kohler will take the audience on a journey through the last ten years of James Lee Byars life and career, including landmark exhibitions in Düsseldorf, Berkeley, Tokyo and Toyota. His presentation will refer to some of the artworks present in the Pirelli HangarBicocca exhibition, and will explore the artist’s approach to achieve perfection in exhibitions and publications, as well as his relation to poetry and to materials.


The talk was held in English.
Admission to the event is free.



Stephan Köhler (Hamburg, 1959) started to curate exhibitions with Stealing Diamonds, Venice 1986. On this occasion he met James Lee Byars who asked him to travel with him as assistant: he then traveled and worked with James Lee Byars for more than ten years. Intrigued by his accounts of Japanese artisans’ strive for perfection, he went to check it out and stayed for more than ten years. From 1995 on he was curator at large with the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, (Roman Opalka’s first exhibition in Japan, theme show “In Bed” and research for the collection, mostly Arte Povera). Stephan Köhler went to art school at Cooper Union New York, where Hans Haacke was one of his teachers, and at the Vienna University of Applied Arts. He recently completed his PhD on the artist Georges Adéagbo, soon to come out as monography with a major Italian publisher.

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