Jannis Kounellis (Piraeus 1936 - Rome 2017) was based in Rome and was one of the world’s leading contemporary artists with a career spanning more than sixty years.
Kounellis' work is comprised of painting, collage, sculpture, installation work, performance and theatrical shows. After starting as a painter, in the 1960s Kounellis introduced the use of everyday material to his work - such as wool, coal, iron, stones, earth, wood and objets trouvés - as well as animals to create sculptures and installations. The use of antithetical media, such as raw material and objets trouvés, expresses the tension and alienation of our contemporary society. A contemporary society that on the one hand is built upon mass urban and industrial civilisation and on the other retains a link to traditional, primitive and individual values.
The artist exhibited often in Documenta (1972, 1977, 1982) and at the Venice Biennale (1972, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1984, 1998, 1993, and 2011).
Since 1960 Kounellis exhibited all over the world and his works are part of major public collections: Tate Modern, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; MoMA and Guggenheim, New York among others. Recent solo exhibitions include his major retrospective at the Walker Art Center of Minneapolis (2022) and Museo Jumex, Mexico City (2023); his retrospective at Fondazione Prada, Venice (2019); the Monnaie De Paris, Museo Espacio (2016); the Musée d'Art Moderne, Saint-Etienne (2014); MIMA, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern art; Parasol Unit, Foundation for Contemporary Art, London; Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens (2012); Today Art Museum, Beijing; National Centre for Contemporary Art, Moscow (2011); Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2007).
In October 2022, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis will open a major survey of the artist which will mark the biggest exhibition in North America dedicated to Kounellis since his death in 2017.