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About Jannis Kounellis

Associated with Arte Povera since the 1960s, Jannis Kounellis investigates the alienation inherent in contemporary society, juxtaposing the materials of mass urban and industrial civilization with symbols and values of the pre-industrial world. Incorporating humble non-art materials such as cotton, wool, coal, grain sacks, glass bottles, meat hooks, fire, soot, smoke, bed-frames, doors, shelves, and clothing, Kounellis' work is a melodramatic mixture of installation, environment, performance, and theatrical show. In a 1971 painting that explores the relationship between history and contemporary experience, Kounellis reproduced a score from Bach’s oratorio St. John Passion, intending that a cellist must play the music alongside the painting in order to fully “activate” the image. In later work, Kounellis presents objects rather than making them; for a 2011 exhibition in Beijing, Kounellis arranged 4,600 shot glasses filled with erguotou, a Chinese grain alcohol.

Greek, b. 1936, Piraeus, Greece, based in Rome, Italy

Exhibition Highlights On Artsy

2016
Trio, Galerie Lelong, Paris
2016
IMAGINE: New Imagery in Italian Art 1960-1969, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice
2016
Jannis Kounellis, Monnaie de Paris, Paris
2015
Jannis Kounellis, Almine Rech, Brussels
2012
JANNIS KOUNELLIS, Blain | Southern