National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens

Jannis Kounellis



The work is displayed as part of the permanent exhibition


Iron, coal, wooden boards, tripods and burlap sacks
Variable dimensions
Loan from the Ministry of Culture and Sports to the Collection of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (EMST)
Inv. No. 539/04

Having developed strong ties with the Arte Povera avant-garde movement, already in the 1960s, Jannis Kounellis has undoubtedly made a prominent contribution to contemporary post-war art. Throughout his work, the artist explores the alienation of contemporary society by juxtaposing materials drawn from the industrial civilization and urban mass culture with symbols and values of a pre-industrial world. Kounellis has systematically built sculptures and installations out of trivial objects and materials, such as iron, charcoal, wool, fire, wood, or stone, striving to explore the primordial nature of things, together with their cultural depth. The simple everyday materials he deploys have the ability to stimulate memory and the sense of history; what is more, they carry personal memories which can be seen as symbols of hope and desire. Untitled, 2004 —created for EMST is a monumental installation consisting of multiple cross-shaped diagonal black metal rails that lean towards the ground. The crosses are arranged in a circular display, in the middle of which stands a table loaded with bags full of charcoal. The table resembles a sacrificial altar, while the entire space surrounding it transforms into an emotive, solemn, and profoundly spiritual environment.
Daphne Vitali, ENTER EMST: Collection and history, A short guide, 2020

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