Jannis Kounellis (Greek, b.1936) was a performance artist and sculptor associated with the Arte Povera movement. He attended college in Athens before traveling to Rome in 1956 and enrolling at the Academy of Arts. His earliest works experimented with stenciled numbers, letters, and words on canvas, eventually incorporating found objects and staging performances that reflected his ideas about society and politics.
In 1967, he became associated with Arte Povera, a movement dedicated to attacking the established norms of government, industry, and culture. During this time, Kounellis increasingly created works that juxtaposed disparate materials, including stone, cotton, coal, bed-frames, and doors.
Kounellis has participated in numerous international exhibitions, including the Paris Biennale, Documenta, the Venice Biennale, the Istanbul Biennial, and the Sydney Biennale. His work is also included in prestigious public collections, such as the Tate Gallery in London, UK; the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and New York, NY; The Museum of Modern Art in New York, NY; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.; and the Musèe National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, France.
He died on February 16, 2017 in Rome, Italy at the age of 80.