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 Costas Coulentianos  (1918 - 1995)

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Lived/Active: Greece/France      Known for: abstract and figurative sculpture, ink drawing, tapestry

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Born 1918 in Athens, Greece, Costas Coulentianos studied sculpture at the Athens Academy of Fine Arts from 1936 to 1939.  He went to Paris in December 1945 on a French government scholarship to study with Zatkin at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere*.  He lived in France until his death in Arles in 1995.

Having settled in Paris and made the acquaintance of the sculptor Henri Laurens, Coulentianos moved away from academic* forms, thereafter working exclusively in metal such as tin, lead, copper, iron, and steel.  The human body, usually female, was his main subject at first, and his "Acrobats" period, between 1952 and 1959 was reflective of this period.

After the making of the last “Acrobat” in 1959, he passed to abstraction*.  In 1962 he did his first solo exhibition, in the eminent, at the time, Galerie de France.  Simultaneously, he started to work together with architects in order to incorporate sculpture into architecture.  He attempted to do that by making big sculptures for public buildings and open spaces.  At the same period he formulated repetitive decorative elements made out of plaster, cement or concrete that was poured in polyester molds.  A defining feature in the sculptures of this period was the torch-welding with a detachable bronze stick.

In 1966, he moved in central France where he built a workshop that manufactured looms for the production of tapestries of his own design (1969-1975).

His 'bolted' sculptures of the '70s epitomized his career to the end, being works of usually large dimensions and consisting in assemblages of flat or curved surfaces, pure in form but dynamic in movement.  Their characteristic feature is painted iron in black, red, or white.

Coulentianos started teaching in the School of Decorative Arts in Paris (1975-1976) and after moving in the south of France he taught in the School of Fine Arts in Marseilles (1979-1980).

Between 1979 and 1982 he created a new series of sculptures that was named “New Generation”.  With sculptures from this series, he represented Greece in the 1980 Biennale of Venice.  Since then and for the following 15 years, he had a tight contact with Greece, until his last exhibition that occurred in 1991.

Coulentianos, remains in the history of sculpture as an artisan*, with the complete meaning of the word.  His work started with the essential theme of the female figure, naked, sited, lying, standing, acrobat and dancer.  Gradually he was led to dispute the traditional conceptions and liberated himself from specific views towards the human body, his work did not pay tribute to something visible, but to the internal dynamics that seek expression.  He remained loyal to the inspiring figures that marked his training in Greece, he particularly loved ancient Greek sculpture and created sculptures that were unadorned, strict, vivid, balanced and very powerful.

More than 30 solo exhibitions of his work was held in art galleries all over the world, and took part in major international group exhibitions including regular appearances at the Salon de la Jeune Sculpture and the Salon de Mai in Paris; Antwerp Biennale in 1953; Sao Paulo Biennale* in 1955, and Venice Biennale* in 1964, with Zongolopoulos; 1982, representing Greece in the sculpture section.

His sculptures are in public spaces in a number of European cities including Lyons, Brussels, and Athens.  His activities also included organizing sculpture workshops at the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs* in Paris from 1975 to 1976 and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Marseilles from 1979 to 1980.  He was made a Chevalier des Lettres et Des Arts in 1984, and was a member of the Tomi art group.  He also worked in tapestry.

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