Kounellis's work developed as a spectacular mixture of painting, collages and the staging of installations, ‘environments', performances and theatrical shows, designed to express the tensions and alienation of contemporary society, and the multiplicity, obscurity and fragmentation of its language. From 1967 he became associated with Arte povera, and his work was characterised by the juxtaposition of objects, materials and actions that were both physically and culturally antithetical to one another. These included raw materials such as stone, cotton, wool and coal, and objets trouvés such as bed-frames, doors and, since 1969, shelves. He also used fire, soot and smoke in his installations and in 1969 brought live horses into the Galleria L'Attico in Rome, stressing the fragmentation of modern society by also introducing elements of traditional culture. His experimentation with unorthodox combinations of materials continued into the 1980s.
Kounellis (exh. cat., ed. S. Pagé; Paris, Mus. A. Mod. Ville Paris, 1980)
Jannis Kounellis (exh. cat., ed. G. Celant; Rimini, Mus. Com., 1983)
Jannis Kounellis (exh. cat., ed. M. J. Jacob; Chicago, IL, Mus. Contemp. A., 1986)
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