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Jannis Kounellis

Jannis Kounellis with his Untitled, 1971, Sperone Gallery, Turin. Photo: Claudio Abate. © The Estate of Jannis Kounellis.

ARTE POVERA ARTIST Jannis Kounellis was concerned, like most of his generation, with the point where art and life intersect. He was a true realist—not because he endeavored to represent reality faithfully through figuration, but on account of his deep and lasting commitment to the meaningfulness of embodied social and material experience. In its lowliness and radical authenticity, his art was uniquely capable of expressing the tragedy of European history and the laceration of Enlightenment ideals in the twentieth century.

Born in Greece, Kounellis moved to Rome in 1956, where he stayed for the remainder of his life. Along with a handful of other artists in the 1960s in Europe, the Americas, and Japan, Kounellis invented installation art—whereby an artwork is a stage on which fiction and reality merge. As audiences traverse this stage, they are no longer passive spectators

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