Jannis Kounellis, Greek-Italian artist, Died at 80


Jannis Kounellis was born on March 23, 1936, in Piraeus, Greece and died on February 16, 2017.

He was a Greek-Italian contemporary artist based in Rome.

Kounellis studied in art college in Athens until 1956 and at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome.

In his early days, he lived in Greece during the Second World War and a civil war that lasted for ten years until he moved to Rome in 1956.

As of 1960–1966, he went through a period of only exhibiting paintings.

Incorporated in some of his first exhibitions, Kounellis started stenciling numbers, letters, and words onto his canvases often reflecting advertisements and signs seen on the street.

Kounellis started to introduce found sculptural objects such as actual street signs into his work, exhibiting at Galleria La Tartaruga, in 1960.

This same year he donned one of his stencil paintings as a garment and created a performance in his studio to demonstrate himself literally becoming one with his painting.

His newfound convergence of painting, sculpture, and performance was Kounellis’ way out of traditional art.

As of 1961, Kounellis began to paint on newspaper to reflect his feelings towards modern society and politics.

During 1963, he introduced found objects in his paintings, among them live animals but also fire, earth, burlap sacks, gold.

Kounellis changed the canvas with bed frames, doorways, windows or simply the gallery itself.

His work from the 1980s, which also consisted of sculptures and performances using unusual materials, traveled all over Europe.

He has performed with Edward Kienholz, Wolf Vostell in 1974 and other artists in Berlin at the ADA – Aktionen der Avantgarde.

Kounellis’ work has become integral to numerous renowned, international museums’ collections.

Jannis Kounellis passed away at 80 years old.