Jannis Kounellis

Bells (1993)

About this artwork

First exhibited in a palace in Italy, this sculpture was originally placed in a room overlooking a Romanesque cathedral. The arrangement of bells and wooden beams drew directly on the cathedral’s distinct architectural language and evokes Christian iconography. Although the bells are tilted at slight angles and appear as though about to chime, Kounellis has fixed them in place using tightly knotted ropes. Silenced, and suggesting a potent mix of weight and gravity, the bells bring to mind the anticipation and solemnity of religious ceremonies. Despite being an atheist, these spiritual symbols are central to Kounellis’s Mediterranean identity and hold important cultural significance for the artist.

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  • title: Bells
  • accession number: AR00071
  • artist: Jannis KounellisGreek (born 1936)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Sculpture
  • medium: Bronze
  • date created: 1993
  • measurements: Approx. display dimensions: 245.00 x 165.00 x 95.50 cm
  • credit line: ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008
  • copyright: © Jannis Kounellis
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms

Jannis Kounellis

Jannis Kounellis

Kounellis considers himself to be “a Greek person but an Italian artist”. Born in Greece, he moved to Italy in 1956 and studied at the ‘Academia di Belle Arti’ in Rome. Following a two year hiatus from painting, in 1967 he surfaced as an influential contributor to the newly emerging ‘Arte Povera’ movement. From this point his art developed as a mixture of painting, sculpture, collage and installation. It is characterised by the unusual combination of physically and culturally opposing materials. This includes soil, stones, sacks, fire, live animals, bed frames and doorways. Through his ambitious works Kounellis challenges the traditional notions of both painting and the gallery space.