Jannis Kounellis

Jannis Kounellis

Jannis Kounellis was born in Piraeus in 1936, and has lived and worked in Rome since the end of the 1950s. In the paintings of those years, the artist traced words, letters, numbers and directional signs on monochrome surfaces, bringing the visual signals of the urban con- text into pictorial language. In 1968 he took part in the exhibition Arte Povera + Azioni Po- vere at the Antichi Arsenali in Amalfi. In 1969 he presented his celebrated work with twelve live horses, and showed at Arte Povera in Genoa. He began to produce large installations using natural elements or objects referencing the everyday, such as real people and live an- imals, stones, cacti, instant coffee, carded wool, empty or grain-filled jute sacks, the flame produced by oxyhydrogen torches, fragments of copies of classical sculptures, oil lamps, shelves of iron, and tracks. From the start he also did set designs and other projects for the theatre. Recurrent elements in his more recent installations, besides the fragments of copies of classical sculptures positioned on shelves, are items of furniture and everyday objects, which he arranges in monumental assemblies. Since 1972 Kounellis has taken part in the Venice Biennale seven times (and one of his works will be in the Italian Pavilion this year), and was at Documenta in Kassel in 1972 and 1982. He showed at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1980; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, in 1990; the Museo Nacional Centro Reina Sofia, Madrid, in 1996; the Ludwig Museum, Cologne, in 1997; the Museo Pecci, Prato, in 2002; the Museo Madre, Naples, in 2006; the Neue National Galerie, Berlin, in 2007; the Museo Heart, Herning, in 2009; the Today Art Museum, Beijing, in 2011; the Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, in 2012; and the Musée d’art contemporain in Saint-Etienne in 2014.

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