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(1936 – 2017), Greece

Jannis Kounellis Biography

Born in Piraeus, Greece, Kounellis moved to Rome in 1956. He studied at the Art College in Athens and then in Rome, where he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti. There he was particularly influenced by the non-figurative painting of Alberto Burri, Luciano Fontana, Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline.

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During the late 1960’s Kounellis began to use live animals in his art (one of his best-known works included 11 horses installed in a gallery). In 1967, Kounellis joined the Italian ‘Arte Povera’ movement, which involved using found objects and spaces. Gradually Kounellis moved to preferring historical (mostly industrial) sites to gallery environments for his exhibitions.

Kounellis's work has developed as a spectacular mixture of painting, collages and the staging of installations, ‘environments', performances and theatrical shows, designed to express the tensions and alienation of contemporary society, and the multiplicity, obscurity and fragmentation of its language. As a major conceptual artists of our time, Kounellis’ work is to be found in the permanent collections of numerous major international art museums. 

He has recently been honoured with exhibitions at the Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, Greece (2012); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Herning, Denmark (2009); the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany (2007); the MADRE Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina, Naples, Italy (2006); and the Galeria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome, Italy (2002). Earlier on, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía held an exhibition of his work in Madrid in 1997. In 1994, Kounellis installed a comprehensive selection of works from the past thirty years in a boat called Ionion and docked this floating retrospective in his home town the port of Piraeus.

In 1989, the artist was given an exhibition at the Espai Poblenou in Barcelona. Kounellis took part at the Venice Biennale several times as well as Documenta 5 in 1972 and Documenta 7 in 1982. Between 1993 and 2001 he held a professorship at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art. His work is represented in many renowned national and international collections.

Jannis Kounellis Featured Artworks

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Untitled by Jannis Kounellis contemporary artwork
Jannis KounellisUntitled, 2009Wire mesh, wood with gold leaf, coat and hooks on iron plate
200 x 180 x 15 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris Contact Gallery
Senza titolo by Jannis Kounellis contemporary artwork
Jannis KounellisSenza titolo, 2008Steel panel, canvas
200 x 180 cm
KEWENIG Contact Gallery
Untitled by Jannis Kounellis contemporary artwork
Jannis KounellisUntitled, 1996Steel, lead and coal
145.4 x 243.2 cm
Cardi Gallery Contact Gallery
Untitled by Jannis Kounellis contemporary artwork
Jannis KounellisUntitled, 1995Metal plate, oil pastel on paper, lead and iron beam
100 x 73 cm
Cardi Gallery Contact Gallery
UNTITLED (I-BEAM) by Jannis Kounellis contemporary artwork
Jannis KounellisUNTITLED (I-BEAM), 2005Steel, I beam, lithography on paper and glass
100 x 70 x 20 cm
Cheim & Read Contact Gallery
Senza titolo (Untitled) by Jannis Kounellis contemporary artwork
Jannis KounellisSenza titolo (Untitled), 2003Iron, burlap, wire and trumpet
100 x 79 x 10 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
Untitled (Hanging Knife) by Jannis Kounellis contemporary artwork
Jannis KounellisUntitled (Hanging Knife), 1991Metal, glass, etching, hook and knife
25.62 x 17.75 x 3.88 inches
Cheim & Read Contact Gallery
Untitled (Coffee) by Jannis Kounellis contemporary artwork
Jannis KounellisUntitled (Coffee), 1989-1991Etching, coffee beans and engraved lead
25.62 x 17.88 x 2.88 inches
Cheim & Read Contact Gallery

Jannis Kounellis Recent Exhibitions

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Jannis Kounellis Represented By

Almine Rech contemporary art gallery in Brussels, Belgium Almine Rech Aspen, Paris, Brussels, London, New York, Shanghai
Cardi Gallery contemporary art gallery in Milan, Italy Cardi Gallery London, Milan
KEWENIG contemporary art gallery in Berlin, Germany KEWENIG Berlin, Palma

Jannis Kounellis In Ocula Magazine

Jannis Kounellis In Related Press

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Jannis Kounellis: A Taxonomy of Tired Things Related Press Jannis Kounellis: A Taxonomy of Tired Things 7 June 2019, Frieze

All that remained were 48 hats. 48 hats and 48 coats. 48 hats and 48 coats and 48 pairs of shoes. They lay, folded, in six lines of eight, the discarded wear of 48 absent men or the uniform of a single man, repeated some 48 times.

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The Art Newspaper's pick of the 2019 Venice Biennale Related Press The Art Newspaper's pick of the 2019 Venice Biennale 30 April 2019, The Art Newspaper

There are hundreds of exhibitions in Venice during the Biennale. Alongside the main exhibition in the Giardini and Arsenale, there are 90 national presentations, many in nearby pavilions in the Giardini and in spaces around the Arsenale, but also dotted throughout Venice. Then there are the official collateral exhibitions in museums and galleries...

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Jannis Kounellis’s unique blend of aesthetics, poetry, and alchemy Related Press Jannis Kounellis’s unique blend of aesthetics, poetry, and alchemy 23 February 2017, Apollo Magazine

Jannis Kounellis, Arte Povera pioneer, has died in Rome at the age of 80. For over half a century Kounellis transformed often lowly materials into engaging sculptural forms with his signature blend of aesthetics, poetry, and alchemy.

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Arte Povera artist Jannis Kounellis has died, aged 80 Related Press Arte Povera artist Jannis Kounellis has died, aged 80 20 February 2017, The Art Newspaper

The Greek-Italian artist Jannis Kounellis, one of the leading figures of the Arte Povera movement, died in Rome’s Villa Mafalda hospital, aged 80, according to Italian media reports. Born in Piraeus, Greece in 1936, the artist moved to Rome at the age of 20 to study at the Academy of Fine Arts and considered the Eternal City his adopted home...

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