top of page

"Break down the separation between art and life", Jannis Kounellis.

Jannis Kounellis, courtesy of the internet.

Biography of the artist

Jannis Kounellis, (Greece, March 1936; Italy, February 2017)was a Greek performance artist and sculptor associated with the Arte Povera movement, a movement dedicated to attacking the established norms of government, industry, and culture Jannis Kounellis, born on March 23, 1936 in Piraeus, Greece, died in Rome, Italy, on february 16, 2017, was a naturalized italian performance artist and sculptor who emigrated in Rome at the age of 20, to study at the Accademia delle Belle Arti. In this environment, Jannis Kounellis was reborn. At the age of 24 he showed his work for the first time at one of the most prestigious galleries in Rome, the Galleria della Tartaruga, in which he displayed a series of audacious paintings entitled Alphabets, in which he stencilled letters, numerals, even traffic markings – the most impersonal, universal signs – onto otherwise abstract canvases.This exhibition - “L’ alfabeto di Kounellis” - shot him into the mainstream of the Italian art world.

Jannis Kounellis’s “Untitled (12 Horses),” recreated in New York. Credit Byron Smith for The New York Times

In the mid-1960s Kounellis’ art formed an unexpected bond with life. In one installation from 1967, shown at the Galleria L ‘Attico, he made a steel structure covered in cotton and vases painted with metallic paint, containing soil and cactuses. On a painted sheet metal frame on the wall he placed a perch and a real parrot. These radical gestures, unique acts of theatricality, which led him two years later to present, at the same space, had been his flagship installation, which consisted of 12 horses tethered to the gallery’s walls. He recreated the installation for the 1967 Venice Biennale. The horses were not sculptures or symbols, but real live animals, with all their smells and sounds. The installations that he made in the late 60s exchanged oil on canvas for shelves, doors and bed-frames, whose presence in sleek gallery settings managed to be both striking and somehow rather comforting.

Arte Povera

A pioneer of Arte Povera (An Italian variant of Conceptualism linked to the political radicalism of the period) 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, attempting to shake off mid-European’s tradition-bound view of aesthetics, but also being deeply engaged with social issues and with reinstalling a metaphysical content into art. 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.

Auctions results

According to the website, the turnover of Jannis Kounelli's Artwork in 2018 woths 1.4 million dollars (54 lots sold), and the price evolution in 2018 is plus 37.4% $100 invested in a work by Jannis KOUNELLIS in 2000 would be worth an average of $196 (+ 96%) in December 2018. From the beginning of the century, Kounellis' most bought artpieces are drawings (41% of lots sold), followed by paintings (22% with 119 artworks), and sculptures (20%).

Selected artworks currently on sale:

Composition -

Untitled - Wooson Gallery

Upcoming public auctions 12 Jan 2019 14h30

Meeting Art Corso Adda 1113100

Vercelli VC Italy

bottom of page