Top 10 Greek Sculptors and How They Revolutionized Art
Whether it’s the Fix metro station in Athens, the Parisian footbridge at La Défense, the MoMA in Barcelona or the Modern Tate in London, Takis’ floating metallic objects mesmerize young and old with their daring explorations of light, sound and pure magnetism. Born Panayiotis Vassilakis on October 29, 1925 in Athens, he died at the age of 93 on August 9, 2019, leaving behind a legacy in kinetic art. At 17 he joined the resistance in Greece and later, although he had little formal education, his first works appeared at the American Cultural Center in Athens in 1951, two busts, inspired after seeing sculptures of Picasso and Giacometti. Takis was recruited to settle in Paris by patron Caresse Crosby in 1953 and took Europe by storm. From the 70s, his Musical Sculptures attracted attention and he was a regular representative of kinetic art in large institutions. In 1995, he returned to Greece and created the Takis Foundation.
2) Costas Varotsos
His iconic ‘Runner’ masterfully crafted from shards of glass hung for years on the move in Omonia Square before moving to Vas. Sofias Street outside the Athens Hilton. Works like this allowed the Greek sculptor Costas Varotsis to leave his artistic imprint on urban spaces around the world. His sculptures can be found in outdoor spaces in Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Switzerland and the United States. He works with stone, iron and glass to create impressive multi-layered works.
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3) Georges Zongolopoulos
Sculptor, painter and architect George Zongolopoulos, was called the intern adolescent until his death at the age of 101 in 2004 after participating in the Venice Biennale at the age of 99 with the sculptures “Five Circles” mobiles which were then installed in Omonia Square. Representative of the Generation of the 1930s, his work seeks harmony with the environment. Her Monument to the Women Heroes in Zalongo (1954-1960) is iconic and a tourist sight in the region, while her umbrellas adorn Syntagma Station and the promenade in Thessaloniki.
4) Yannoulis Chalepas
Son of a family of marble cutters from the village of Panormos on the island of Tinos, he studied sculpture despite his family’s wish to continue his life as a merchant. He studied at the School of Fine Arts in Athens before joining the Munich Academy on a scholarship from the Holy Panhellenic Foundation of the Evangelistria of Tinos. Her work ‘Sleeping Female Figure’, near the entrance to Athens’ first cemetery was placed on the grave of Sophia Afentaki and is admired for her art. At 37, mental illness knocked on her door after a depression triggered by her perfectionist tendencies and overworking habits. He began to destroy some of his sculptures and made several suicide attempts. His parents sent him on a trip to Italy to recover, but the treatment he received was temporary. In 1888 he started showing signs of dementia and was admitted to Corfu Psychiatric Hospital in 1888; as a result, he remained in complete creative inactivity for fourteen years (1888-1902). He was brought to Tinos from Corfu after his father’s death but his mother blamed his art for his mental illness and destroyed all of his sculptures until his death in 1916. The ensuing period of 1918-1930 was a long period of awakening to the light of reason in the art world.
5) Chryssa Vardea-Mavromichali
Chryssa, a Greek-American artist, has worked in a wide variety of media. A pioneer in the art of light and luminist sculpture, her work is widely known for its interesting depiction of neon, steel, aluminum, and acrylic glass installations. She came from a cultivated and educated family who sent her to study art in Paris at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in 1953, where she met André Breton, Edgard Varese and Max Ernst and Alberto Giacometti was visiting professor. She worked from the mid-1950s in New York. Has worked since 1992 in the studio she created in Neos Kosmos, and died of heart problems on December 23, 2013, at the age of 79.
6) Georges Lappas
George Lappas’ life-size red and blue figure sculptures appeared all over Greece, with an emphasis on city life, until his death in 201aW6. He studied psychology at Reed College, Portland Oregon, and worked in state mental institutions before accepting a Waston scholarship to study Indian architecture and sculpture for a year in India. He continued his studies at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and worked and traveled in France and the United Kingdom before receiving a grant from the Fondation Cartier in Paris. His life was marked by countless trips as he browsed the work.
7) Stéphane Antonakos
Greek-American artist Stephen Antonakos is known for his abstract work. His family left Greece when he was four, so he grew up in Brooklyn. He liked to explore the works of the Russian avant-garde, but neon was his main medium, which he began to use from 1960. He called neon a “controlled paradise” – a phrase that indicates to the both the innate rigor of his vision and his willingness to discover new possibilities. His sculptures are based on light, scale, proportions and geometric form. He died in 2013, at the age of 88.
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8) Jannis Kounellis
Contemporary Greek-Italian artist Jannis Kounellis was a key figure associated with the arte povera movement. Born in Piraeus, in his first exhibitions, he began by stenciling numbers, letters and words on canvas. In 1960, he incorporated sculptural objects found in the street into his work. In 1961 he began painting on newsprint to reflect his feelings towards modern society and politics. He later began to sculpt with unusual materials and achieved worldwide success.
9) Costas Tsoclis
Costas Tsoclis studied at the School of Fine Arts in Athens (ASFA) in the laboratory of G. Morali. From 1957 to 1960 he lived in Rome. In 1960 he moved to Paris, where he resided until 1984. Later he moved to Berlin after obtaining a scholarship. In 1973, he began his collaboration with A. Iola in Paris. In 1978, he created his first tree, a recurring theme, and moved to the navies in 1980. In 1984, he returned to Greece for good. In 1985, Tsoclis started experimenting with video. For several years, he has been carrying out monumental constructions.
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10. Babis Vekris
Greek-American Babis Vekris is known to incorporate LEDs into his artwork. They move in a rhythmic and sequential movement in his installations and sculptures. It adopted the name Electros in 1990.