The Philosophical Nail


Gilded iron

Variable dimensions

A gilded nail is displayed in a precious mahogany case like a relic. The Philosophical Nail raises questions about man's relationship to materials and his tendency to fetishise the object. It also refers to the sacred - the nail evokes Christ on the cross.

James Lee Byars, an enigmatic 20th-century artist, immediately stood out for his eclecticism and original approach at the crossroads of various influences. A quest for the absolute led him to create a body of homogeneous, often mystical works seeking to bring together Eastern and Western cultures.

Byars’ sculpture, The Philosophical Nail, was presented for the first time by the Pinault Collection during the “Reliquaries” (“Reliquaries”) show at the Laennec Hospital Chapel in Paris (2018).