Jannis Kounellis

Untitled (1971)

About this artwork

At the beginning of the twentieth century, cubist painters such as Pablo Picasso and Juan Gris, introduced musical notes and motifs into their still-lives. In this canvas of 1971, Kounellis drew upon this avant-garde tradition, reproducing a score from Bach’s oratorio St John Passion. The work can be 'activated' with a cellist playing alongside it. The painting exists both as a work in its own right, and as a trace of the performative action. Kounellis was interested in creating a harmony between history and contemporary experience, and used the theme of music to reconcile memory with the immediacy of the present moment.

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  • title: Untitled
  • accession number: AR00497
  • artist: Jannis KounellisGreek (born 1936)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • date created: 1971
  • measurements: 220.00 x 316.90 x 3.70 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
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.