Born 1936, Piréa, Greece; died 2017, Rome, Italy
A versatile and compelling artist, Jannis Kounellis, born in Greece, moved to Rome in 1956. He has made Italy his home ever since. His early work was greatly influenced by the work of Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, and Lucio Fontana, whose abstraction and energetic movement Kounellis found very sympathetic. Kounellis, however, would eventually break with painting altogether in favor of sculptural and performance art, which embraced fragmentation and earthy, even alive, materials. He is considered part of the important Arte Povera movement, which involved using found objects and spaces. His art continues to be very tactile and rooted in history, to which he believes every true artist has a responsibility to understand and move forward.
One of the major conceptual artists of our time, Kounellis' work is in the permanent collections of many museums including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Guggenheim Museum, New York, and the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany. Recently he has had solo exhibitions at the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany, The Musée d'Art Moderne de Saint-Etienne, France, and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Scotland.