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Jannis Kounellis (B. 1936)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED EUROPEAN COLLECTION
Jannis Kounellis (B. 1936)


Jannis Kounellis (B. 1936)
steel plates, iron beam, burlap sack and rope
78¾ x 71¼ x 11¾in. (200 x 181 x 30cm.)
Executed in 1989
Konrad Fisher Gallery, Düsseldorf.
Private Collection, Athens.
G. Moure, Kounellis, Barcelona, 1990 (illustrated, p. 80).
Kounellis Via del Mare, exh. cat., Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, 1990-1991 (illustrated, p. 6).
B. Corá, Kounellis. Mistral., Bergamo, 1996 (illustrated, pp. 69-73, 76-82 and 98).
K. Koskina, Kounellis M/V Ionion Pireus, Athens, 1998 (illustrated, pp. 66, 104, 108, 110-111, 130-131 and 140).
G. Moure, Jannis Kounellis works Writings 1958-2000, Barcelona, 2001 (illustrated, pp. 320-323).
E. Cicelyn, M. Codognato (eds.), Kounellis, Naples, 2006 (illustrated, pp. 184-185).
Jannis Kounellis, exh. cat., Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie, 2008 (illustrated, p 98).
M. Scheps, Jannis Kounellis: XXII Stations on an Odyssey 1969-2010, Munich, 2010 (illustrated on the cover; illustrated, pp. 118-120).
Athens, Cargo Vessel Ionion, Piraeus, 1994.
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Post Lot Text
This work is accompanied by a photo-certificate signed by the artist.

Lot Essay

Comprising twin suspended iron rods cloaked in burlap sack, Jannis Kounellis’ captivating sculpture Untitled was included in the artist’s 1994 solo exhibition Cargo Ionion: Jannis Kounellis. A poetic, quasi-theatrical staging of over thirty years of the artist’s work, this magisterial exhibition space was docked in the Athenian port of Piraeus, Kounellis’s hometown and the site of his decisive departure for Italy in 1956. Prominently placed within the inner sanctum of the Ionion, the present work participates in the almost mythological narrative that characterised this exhibition: the itinerant artist returning, with a cargo of new objects, to the place of his birth. As a child in Piraeus, Kounellis had witnessed the constant ebb and flow of ships and their passengers; throughout his subsequent career, the artist was to travel far and wide, and themes of voyage and rebirth came to play an important role within his practice, continually inviting the viewer to reassess their vision of the world. As an epic gesture of homecoming, the Ionion harboured within its walls a range of works that charted Kounellis’ own artistic odyssey, a journey that had led him back to the port where, as Bruno Corà observed at the time, ‘Homer’s words still echo in memory: “Great man, many faceted genius ... he went wandering, drifting, little by little crossing the high seas, and he saw cities and met man, many types of people.” Awash in that Mediterranean light ... Kounellis’ boat appeared like a phantom, establishing a new sanctuary along that already golden shore’ (B. Corà, ‘Jannis Kounellis. Boat Ionion, Piraeus’ in Artforum International, vol. 33 no. 5, January 1995).

Executed in 1989, Untitled has its legacy in the aesthetic of Arte Povera that drove the development of Kounellis’ artistic language in the late 1960s. In his exploration of everyday materials, rooted in the context of post-war Italian art, Kounellis cultivated a practice that threw into relief the void between reality and modern civilisation. Gathered together aboard the vessel Ionion in 1994, works such as Untitled took on a hallowed quality, incarcerated as relics of the artist’s own creative trajectory within the tomb-like interior of the ship’s hold. ‘Kounellis’ boat is destined to become an emblem of his identity’, wrote Corà. ‘The juxtaposition of works seemed as deliberate as if they had been placed by a medieval artist within the spatial scansions of a crypt’ (B. Corà, ‘Jannis Kounellis: Boat Ionion, Piraeus’ in Artforum International, vol. 33 no. 5, January 1995).

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