© Jannis Kounellis

Reference URL

Untitled 1960
  • Artist Rooms
Like many artists of his generation, Kounellis merged traditional art forms with new performative elements. This early composition comes from a series of ‘alphabet paintings’ known as 'Alfabeti'. Including overlapping letters and arrows that create dynamic and unpredictable compositions, it takes inspiration from the spontaneous technique of the action painter, Jackson Pollock. Stencilled thickly onto a white background, the arrangement of the letters invokes a rhythm which appears to make the black marks float freely in their surrounding space. As if denoting the emergence of some new primitive language, these signs were also enacted by Kounellis himself in ritualistic performances.

Glossary Open

Action Painting

A method of painting associated with the Abstract Expressionists, particularly Jackson Pollock, in which paint is thrown, dripped, and poured onto the canvas.


The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.

Performance art

Works in which the actions of the artist constitute the art. Artists have used performance techniques throughout the 20th century but the term is usually applied to works from the 1960s onwards.

Action Painting, Composition, Performance art


  • Acc. No. AR00614
  • Medium Polyvinyl acetate paint and tempera on canvas
  • Size 140.90 x 230.50 x 3.00 cm
  • Credit ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008