Jannis Kounellis (1936-2017) was a Greek-Italian artist associated with the Arte Povera movement.
Born in 1936, in Piraeus, Greece, Kounellis later moved to Rome, where he became a prominent figure in the international art scene. In the early 1960s, he emerged as a key exponent of Arte Povera, a radical art movement that emphasized a raw, elemental aesthetic and a rejection of traditional artistic mediums.
Kounellis gained widespread recognition for his groundbreaking installations that incorporated found objects, live animals, and diverse materials. In 1969, he presented one of his most iconic works, Untitled (12 Horses), which featured live horses tethered to the walls of a gallery space. This piece exemplified his interest in creating immersive, multisensory experiences that challenged the boundaries between art and life.
Throughout his career, Kounellis continued to explore themes of transformation, ritual, and the relationship between the natural and industrial worlds. His works often incorporated everyday materials such as coal, steel, wood, and cloth, contributing to the distinctive aesthetic of Arte Povera.
Jannis Kounellis exhibited widely across the globe, participating in major art events, including Documenta in Kassel and the Venice Biennale.
Kounellis passed away on February 16, 2017, in Rome, leaving behind a rich and influential body of work that continues to be celebrated for its experimental nature and its profound engagement with the human experience.