Jannis Kounellis - ITALIA Theme Sale London Tuesday, June 29, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galleria Mario Pieroni, Rome 

  • Exhibited

    Ghent, Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst (S.M.A.K.), Twee prive verzamelingen: een dialog noord–zuid/Due collezione private; un dialogo nord–sud, July–September 1995

  • Catalogue Essay

    Jannis Kounellis’ oeuvre is concerned with theatricality and dialectic dialogue. His works often have an aspect of tableaux vivant, opposing a ‘popular language of the senses’ with the ‘elitist language of philosophy’, according to Germano Celant. Jannis Kounellis was a prominent figure within the Arte Povera movement, and one of his first important works was Senza Titolo from 1967, in which he took a groundbreaking stance by combining inorganic, industrial elements, which he called ‘structure’, with organic and live elements, such as potted plants and a live parrot, which he referred to as ‘sensibility’. The balance and dialogue established between the elements of structure and the elements of sensibility has been a defining aspect of Kounellis’ practice.  The present work is an installation from 1979 which exemplifies Kounellis’ interest in Baroque art and in the accumulation of imagery and symbols from the classical tradition of his native Greece. As the artist himself has said: “In terms of diversity, personally I am anchored to the tradition of Anatolian ramifications, of Levantine  harbors and Baroque festivities” (M. Codognato & M. d’Argenzio, Echoes in the Darkness: Jannis Kounellis, writings and interviews 1966–2002, London, 2002, pp. 154–55).
    While still using the found and organic materials that defined his work in the Arte Povera movement, the present work was made after this period, when his later works manifested a shift towards a more theatrical and emotional impact. In his interview with Robin White in 1979, Kounellis stated: “The terms of the dialectic dialogue have changed. The dialectic elements which determine my work have changed … I don’t think that my work is Surrealistic. No, my work is not Surrealistic. Its effect is theatrical, Baroque … Obviously, I have a very different concept of radicality, less formal, more fluid, less dogmatic, without protective filters – rasher and less restrained.” (M. Codognato & M. d’Argenzio, Echoes, 2002, p. 177).
    This theatricality comes from a strategic placing, in the context of the gallery space, of an accumulation of images and found objects from everyday life. In doing so, and by offering no explanation for the objects’ juxtaposition, the gallery is transformed into a stage on which the spectators themselves play a part in the work.There is also an elegiac mood to his work, in the way he manages to capture the essence of humanity and the universality of life. There is a sense of a “return towards the light of restored consciousness, towards the lost scale, unity & totality of man. This is the central theme in Kounellis’ work: the force behind his particular feeling of ‘Return’. He progressively strengthened these themes towards the end of the 1960s and through the 1970s using an artistic language which became more individualized in those tension-ridden years … His identification of the artist with the hero once again opens the door of contemporary art to myth” (G. Briganti in C. Christov-Bakargiev, Arte Povera, London, 2005, p. 251).



Chalk, metal, acrylic and lampblack. 
Installation dimensions variable. Largest bust: 33 × 22.2 × 17.8 cm (13 × 8 3/4 × 7 in). 
This work is unique. 

£150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for £145,250

ITALIA Theme Sale

30 June 2010