Jannis Kounellis

Greek (1936-2017)
Jannis Kounellis Untitled 1969 © Jannis Kounellis

Biography

Born 1936
Died 2017
Nationality Greek
Birth place Piraiévs
Death place Rome

Kounellis considers himself to be “a Greek person but an Italian artist”. Born in Greece, he moved to Italy in 1956 and studied at the ‘Academia di Belle Arti’ in Rome. Following a two year hiatus from painting, in 1967 he surfaced as an influential contributor to the newly emerging ‘Arte Povera’ movement. From this point his art developed as a mixture of painting, sculpture, collage and installation. It is characterised by the unusual combination of physically and culturally opposing materials. This includes soil, stones, sacks, fire, live animals, bed frames and doorways. Through his ambitious works Kounellis challenges the traditional notions of both painting and the gallery space.

Glossary terms

  • Art in which the idea takes precedence over its manifestation in visual form. It emerged in the 1960s and was often concerned with the nature of art and the use of language.

  • Existing objects or images that are incorporated into an artwork. A found object that is treated as an artwork without modification is known as a readymade.