December 03, 2020

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In Memoriam: Jannis Kounellis (1936-2017)

In Memoriam: Jannis Kounellis (1936-2017)

“Everything needs to be centered on Humanity”. Jannis Kounellis

Key figure in the Arte Povera movement, artist Jannis Kounellis has passed away yesterday, February 16, 2017, in Rome. He was 80.

Kounellis lived in Greece during the Second World War and a civil war that lasted for ten years until he moved to Rome in 1956. From the years of 1960–1966, Kounellis went through a period of only exhibiting paintings. In some of his first exhibitions, Kounellis began stenciling numbers, letters, and words onto his canvases often reflecting advertisements and signs seen on the street. In 1960 he began to introduce found sculptural objects such as actual street signs into his work, exhibiting at Galleria La Tartaruga. Later on, he introduced found objects in his paintings, among them live animals but also fire, earth, burlap sacks, gold. And then, he replaced the canvas with bed frames, doorways, windows or simply the gallery itself.

In 1967, Kounellis became associated with Arte Povera, a movement theorized by curator Germano Celant as a major shift from work on flat surfaces to installations. Kounellis participated in the exhibition ‘Arte Povera – e IM Spazio’ at the La Bertesca Gallery in Genoa curated by Germano Celant, which brought together artists whose work was concerned with the space between art and life, and nature and culture, such as Alighiero Boetti, Fabro, Giulio Paolini, Giuseppe Penone, Pistoletto, Kounellis and Zorio.


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