Alecos Condopoulos (Greek, 1905-1975) The abduction of Europe/Composition, 1959 160 x 242.5 cm.
Lot 37AR
Alecos Condopoulos
(Greek, 1905-1975)
The abduction of Europe/Composition, 1959 160 x 242.5 cm.
£40,000 - 60,000
US$ 66,000 - 99,000
Auction Details
Lot Details
Alecos Condopoulos (Greek, 1905-1975)
The abduction of Europe/Composition, 1959
signed in Greek and dated '959' (lower left)
oil on cardboard
160 x 242.5 cm.

Footnotes

  • PROVENANCE:
    Private collection, Athens.

    EXHIBITED:
    Venice, 30th Biennale International Exhibition, 1960 (listed in the exhibition catalogue, no. 1, p. 253).
    Athens, National Gallery - Alexandros Soutzos Museum, Alecos Condopoulos, March 1976, no. 74 (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue).

    LITERATURE:
    T. Spiteris, Grèce, 30me Biennale de Venice 1960 (listed).
    Avgi newspaper, 15.8.1975.
    Eleftheros Kosmos newspaper, 15.8.1975.
    Kathimerini newspaper, 19.8.1975 (photo of the artist in front of the painting).
    Alecos Condopoulos, In Memoriam, exhibition catalogue, Papageorgiou gallery, Athens 1975, cover page (photo of the artist working on the painting).
    Alecos Condopoulos, Athens 1979, no. 156 (illustrated).
    Alecos Condopoulos 1905-1975, exhibition catalogue, Municipal Library of Aghia Paraskevi - Cultural Centre, May 1986 (photo of the artist in front of the painting).
    Alecos Condopoulos Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings, A. Condopoulos Municipal Gallery, Lamia 1996, p. 51 (referred).
    Alekos Condopoulos, Municipal Library of Aghia Paraskevi - Alekos Kondopoulos Museum, September 1999, p. 2 (photo of the artist in front of the painting).


    This monumental work is the largest and most impressive of the eleven paintings by Condopoulos that represented Greece at the 1960 Venice Biennale. The artist's showing at this prestigious international art exhibition met with resounding success and contributed significantly to the establishment of abstraction as the dominant language of Greek modernism. All the paintings included in the Biennale were acquired by European and American collectors, while a few years later, his entire body of work shown in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was purchased by the Forsythe Gallery. Critical reviews were equally enthusiastic, hailing him as a pioneer of postwar abstraction on an international level. Art critic Jean Paul Slusser, in his article "Traditional European Charm in Condopoulos's Abstract Painting," noted: "Condopoulos's art manifests all the gracefulness of oil painting to such a degree that today no American painter, not even a dedicated member of the New York School, can or could ever dream to accomplish."1

    Straight lines and shredded shapes, weighted colours and lyrical tones, solid volumes and gestural markings gently overlap and interlock in a quest for balance between order and emotion, aspiring to the creation of a new visual cosmos. Nevertheless, though the painting can be read as a non-objective landscape of abstract marks, it doesn't lose sight of the real. From within its capacious forms and surfaces, where colour tends to devour shape, something organic emerges, echoing the artist's earlier figurative period and reminiscent of his lifelong studies in ancient Greek art. The title itself refers to the abduction of Europa, daughter of Agenor king of Tyre, by Zeus who, having taken the form of a bull, swam with her on his back to the island of Crete, where the young princess gave birth to Minos, Rhadamanthus and Sarpedon. As noted by former Athens National Gallery Director D. Papastamos, "having studied with great passion the ideal proportions and 'gold mean' of Ancient Greek art, it was impossible for Condopoulos to let himself be carried away by a frenzied game of colours deprived of any deeper meaning and contemplation."2

    1. Reprinted in Greek, Zygos journal, no. VI-65, July 1965, p. 79.
    2. D. Papastamos, The Abstract Imagery of Condopoulos's Painting [in Greek] in Alecos Condopoulos 1905-1975, Municipal Library of Aghia Paraskevi - Cultural Centre, 1986.
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