Jannis Kounellis – Untitled

Jannis Kounellis was born in Piraeus, Greece in 1936. He lived in Greece during the Second World War and Greek Civil War before he moved to Rome in 1956. Kounellis was a key figure in the Italian art movement called Arte Povera, translated to “Poor Art”. In this monumental work, the incorporation of iron is both a nod to a material we use everyday in ways seen and unseen but there is a subtle hint of the human hand at work. This is not raw ore but shaped and usable iron. Kounellis always thought of himself as a painter despite the use of unusual materials. This can be seen in this work in which the placement of the iron bars seem to suggest planes of color that a more traditional painter would apply to the canvas. Although devoid of figures and recognizable media in paintings, this work centers itself around humankind in its material and form.