Jannis KounellisSans Titre© ADAGP, Paris © Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Born in Greece in 1936, Jannis Kounellis lives and works in Italy. A major figure in contemporary art from the late 1950s, Kounellis, despite his claimed independence, is attached to the Arte Povera movement, so named by the critic Germano Celant. An attitude more than an art movement, Arte Povera promoted the idea of mobility and resistance to traditional social frameworks, in a revolutionary mode. Fascinated by the relationship between nature and culture, Kounellis explores the interaction between organic, mineral and animal materials (coal, milk, stone, wood) and vital elements (air and fire), inventing his own poetic language which gives pride of place to the sacred and the mysterious. Kounellis’ sources are pictorial (Caravaggio, Munch, De Chirico, the Cubists, etc.) rather than sculptural and he has chosen to correspond with Millet's Angelus.
Serge Lemoine, President of the Musée d'Orsay, in conjunction with Olivier Gabet, curator, Musée d'Orsay.