Three Greek-American Artists

Stephen Antonakos, Nassos Daphnis, Cris Gianakos


     This lecture discusses the art work of three Greek-American artists who live in New York: Stephen Antonakos, Nassos Daphnis and Cris Giannakos. 

     Antonakos was born in 1926 in Agios Nikolaos, a village in the mountains of Laconia, in the Peloponese, southern Greece, and went to New York four years later with his family. 

     Daphnis was born in a village close to Sparta, also in the Peloponese, in 1914 and arrived in the United States at the age of 16, following his father, while Giannakos was the only one to be born in New York twenty years later, in 1934.

     The above three artists share in common the strong Greek roots which they harmonically interweave with contemporary formalistic and conceptual concerns, using the language of geometry as one of the main means to arrive to an artistic result.


     In discussing some of the influences that infuse the subconscious, Stephen Antonakos (photo  ) writes:  “Influences come from years of looking at the ancient Greek art in the Met in New York and in the Archaeological Museum, the Benaki and the Cycladic Museums in Athens…It is the spirit that comes through, I think, more than anything concrete one could point to- the spirit and the sense of scale and of proportions”.[1]

     A direct reference to antique art can be found in some of the shapes Antonakos repeatedly uses in his abstract compositions.  His repertory is intensionally limited to a few geometric forms which he deliberately leaves incomplete: circles and squares that may also be perceived as incomplete Pythagorean orthogonal triangles.  He further makes use of the straight and wavy lines which are to be found, along with the circle, in ancient Greek vases of the protogeometric period. 

     The terms protogeometric and geometric have internationally been accepted by archaeologists and art historians in order to define the period of Greek art from the 11th to the 8th century B.C.  This amphora (photo ), a two-handled jar for the storage of wine or oil, was discovered in the cemetery of Dipylon in Athens and dates from about the 10th century B.C. (Keramikos Museum).  A typical vase of the protogeometric period, it is decorated with homocentric semi-circles, straight lines and wavy curves that are repeated on its main body.

     A similar approach in the history of Greek ceramics can be observed chronologically even further backwards, in the 13th century B.C., in the vases of the Minoan and Mycenean civilizations (photo ). A continuity can be traced between these early pots and the protogeometric ones, the difference being in the latter’s accuracy of execution due to the discovery of the compass and the ruler (kanon) that had taken place in between.

     Geometry, as a science, had not yet been discovered.  Traditionally, the shift from Egyptian experimental geometry to scientific geometry is attributed to Thales of Miletus who was active in the early 6th century B.C. and who has, most probably, coined the term. The word “geometry” derives from the combination of the Greek noun γη (which means “earth”) and the verb μετρέω (which means “to measure”) and actually describes the origin of the Egyptian empirical activity as has been handed down to us by Herodotus who lived during the classical period and is considered the father of history.  According to Herodotus, Egyptian empirical geometry concerned the redefining of the boundaries of the farm areas after the yearly flood of the Nile River, an activity that symbolized for the Egyptians the revival of the principle of order and law on earth. 

     But let us return to Antonakos, an artist who accepts being called geometric in the sense Greek protogeometric art has been both termed and defined, in other words: due to the use of geometric shapes and analogies, of scale and proportions, of clarity and exactitude as well as of the architectural structure of the art-work.  He, like his protogeometric ancestors, does not visually apply scientific problems but instead focuses on the feeling the art evokes.

     He is deeply concerned with the idea of the viewer’s perception and leads one to let the imagination free and visually complete the incomplete shapes “in the mind’s eye”, as he himself writes.[2]  By using open geometrical forms along with the power of suggestion he guides, in a way, the viewer to experience his own processes of creation and cognition; these involve a state of intensified and heightened consciousness that presupposes deep self-concentration.

     Antonakos is widely known for his site-specific public neon works which are usually artistic interventions on architectural buildings. Neon, an industrial material used in street advertisements in order to convey immediate messages at a glance, challenged the artist. Antonakos rejected its usual connotations of low or flashy taste as well as its popular, commercial function and elevated neon into the realm of art, turning it into a personal trademark from the early 1960s on. “I thought”, he writes, “that neon was many things, had many voices and that it was completely wasted in the signs because people looked only for that fraction of a second to get the message, and they never really saw the neon for itself at all.  I wanted to use neon for itself, for its own qualities, and I wanted to find new forms for neon which would give it new and rich uses and meanings”.[3]

     The use of new materials in art was proclaimed by the Russian artist Naum Gabo in an essay he wrote on sculpture as early as 1937.[4]  Gabo, along with his brother Anton Pevsner, founded Constructivism, one of the major geometric movements in the history of early twentieth century art.  In the text already mentioned, entitled “Sculpture: Carving and Construction in Space”, Gabo (photo) observes that “our century has been enriched by the invention of new materials” which the artist has every right to use and pinpoints that the art work should be in accord with the substantial properties of the chosen material.  Antonakos adheres to these ideas and takes full advantage of the neon, exploiting its luminosity, intensity of color, flexibility, immediacy, and spatial qualities. 

     His open, incomplete forms and his substitution of sculptural mass for light further leads to a notion of space similar to Gabo’s.  In the aforementioned essay, Gabo renounces the traditional perception of space as a spot in which volumes can “be placed or projected” and sees space as “an absolute sculptural element, released from any closed volume…”. 

     Antonakos also deals with space as an independent, autonomous element –which he believes contains forms- and attempts to activate it.  Gabo himself had activated space by producing as early as 1920 one of the first experimental kinetic sculptures that stands as a landmark in the history of art.[5]  However, the difference between Gabo and Antonakos lies in that the former activated space through actual mechanical movement while the latter activates it through static bright forms that both pull in space and invade it.  Neon’s intrinsic and unique quality outdoors is that it constantly changes, subtly transforming the “aura” of the public art work.  Says Antonakos:  “During the day, it is the colored raceways that dominate, but as the sun goes down, the colors glow out –reflecting off the walls of buildings and out in space itself.  During both day and night, neon looks different depending on the atmosphere, or weather, and depending on the kind and quantity of auxiliary light in the area.  We say day and night, but really it is more a continuous slow gradation from light to dark and back again during every 24-hour period.”[6]

     In Antonakos’ art, form is perceived through color while color can not be separated from light; it is the latter that makes his neon works appear Heraclitian in spirit since they constantly change, recalling the Greek philosopher’s timeless ideas on perpetual motion and cosmic flux. 

     Antonakos takes us mentally back to ancient Greek times once again when he discusses his artistic methodology in what concerns the neon.  He writes: “The most difficult thing (about it), and the most beautiful in a way, is the matter of placement.  I mean the relation between the parts, and between the parts and the whole, and between all of this and the site of the work.  The site, too, is made up of parts, and it is seen from different views and distances…”. [7]

     This relational and deeply analytical methodology evokes the thoughts of the 5th century B.C. Peloponesean sculptor, Polykleitos of Argos (photo ).  Antonakos approaches his industrial, flexible, and glowing neon material much in the same way as Polykleitos approached the marble in order to give form to his classical statues. Polykleitos wrote the most renowned classical treatise on art, called the “Canon”, which is supposed to have been based on Pythagorean mathematical principles.      A few only sentences of this treatise, that influenced artists centuries after, have survived to our day and can be found in a text by the second century A.D. physician Galen.  Let us listen to them: “Beauty…inheres not in the commensurability (symmetria) of the constituent elements of the body, but in the commensurability of the parts, such as that of finger to finger, and all these to the palm and wrist, and of these to the forearm, and of the forearm to the upper arm, and of everything to everything else, just as it is written in the “Canon” of Polykleitos.  For having taught us in that treatise all the commensurate proportions of the body, Polykleitos made a work to support his account; he made a statue according to the tenets of his writing, and called it, like the treatise, the “Canon”.[8]

     Antonakos’ references to antiquity, even though existent, are nonetheless less obvious than his references to the Byzantium, a period during which pagan beliefs were largely seen as a degenerate doctrine.  The Byzantine empire was officially formed after the persecution period, in A.D. 325, when Constantine recognized Christianity as the state’s religion; it ended in 1453 with the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople.

     Antonakos’ desire to elevate the viewer to a higher level in order that he or she may experience an intensified or heightened consciousness may well have been one of the reasons that led him to the religious works that still concern him today; another reason was the recollection of his childhood memories from the Peloponesean little village in Greece.  Antonakos describes being particularly impressed by the bright spark and glow of the kandeli, a red glass with oil and a wick which was always kept lit in Greek houses and was placed in a sacred corner, under the orthodox icon. [9]  In the early 1980s he began creating religious icons of saints himself. These works, far from being figurative, are in fact absolutely abstract representations of the notion of the divine. 

     The immediate association between Antonakos’ religious icons and Byzantine art is the use of gold color.  In the Byzantine époque, layers of gold were uniformly placed on the surface of the icons, composing the monochromatic background that surrounded the holly figures, isolating them from worldly associations. 

     Antonakos adopts the Byzantine, abstract approach towards gold purely for its powerful physical presence; he covers some of his non-representational icons with leaves of gold that mysteriously glow due to the colored neon that is hidden behind the panels.  According to Moshe Barasch, in his stimulating book “From Plato to Winkelmann”, “medieval literature provides ample evidence for the enchantment with the non-material, purely visual appearances of radiancy and luminosity”.[10]  Gold and glitter were associated with the so-called “upward-leading experience” -which symbolized the ascent from the material to the spiritual world-  and were endowed with theological significance.[11]

     “The upward-leading” experience, once sensed by the viewer, obviously leads him or her to reach “katharsis”, a state of inner cleansing and purification.  Purity is a notion that Antonakos associates with the very essence of geometric art.  He says: “I think purity means being specific, clear, and keeping only what is essential –that everything that is there is absolutely necessary”.[12]

     Formal reduction and minimalistic simplicity may also be detected in the chapels that Antonakos started architecturally designing and interiorly decorating with his icons in early 1989; around this time he began creating  the Meditation-rooms as well.  The feelings that the site-specific works aim at evoking to the viewer, here find their full mystical expression.  The peacefulness and quietness of these religious or meditative projects, prompt the spectator to self-concentrate, to look inward, to reach unknown areas of the subconscious, to grow, to achieve a higher consciousness, and, finally, to feel unburdened.

     The notion of purity is a major concern of Nassos Daphnis as well.  Daphnis arrived in the United States, the year the depression era began.  On his way to America, he passed through Athens and took advantage of his brief stay here to visit museums and archaeological sites. His first paintings, dating from the mid 1930s, were primitive in style and were imbued by his intense memories of Greece. He then passed to a Biomorphic period which was to be succeeded by the Hydromorphic and Organic periods. Interestingly enough, what led Daphnis to discard allegorical expressionism and appropriate the pictorial language of geometry was a visit to his homeland.

     In 1950 Daphnis decided to visit Europe in order to continue his studies in Paris and Florence.  That same year, after a well-received one-man show in the French capital, he drove to Greece, entering through Macedonia and heading South.  Let us listen to Daphnis describing the effect this country had upon him: “As I drove South, I began to feel a spiritual awakening.  I became totally energized by the nature of the light; its inner glows and reflections had the effect of eliminating the textures on a form, allowing me to explore the inner qualities of forms.  I returned to Paris and continued my painting, but with a constant vision of Greece.  A few months later, in 1952, I finished my last organic painting.  The urge to express my vision was so strong that, lacking a fresh canvas, I overpainted the organic work with my first geometric creation”.[13]  From then on, geometry, as he himself states, became his life.

     As we have noticed, light is one of the a priori formalistic elements in Antonakos’ art; Daphnis gives equal importance to it but substitutes the industrially fabricated neon light, which is associated with contemporary cityscapes, with the natural light of Greece.  Like a scientist, he meticulously observes the visual illusions created by the force and intensity of Greek light falling upon objects, flattening out both their three-dimensional shapes and eliminating their real textures.

These pertinent observations are translated into colorful paintings of flat and simple geometric forms that stand, in the mind of the artist, as “the basic elements of life; the mystical language of old times; the way to perfection”.[14] 

     One can not help but think of Plotinus (A.D. 205-270), the third century A.D. philosopher who was born and educated in Egypt but taught mainly in Rome; the founder of Neoplatonism, the powerful intellectual movement which deeply influenced history, Plotinus considers the loveliness of color and the light of the sun as the principal examples of simple, uncompounded beauty and professes that the glitter of gold and the brilliance of the stars in the night sky can not be explained by symmetry.[15] Plotinus thus questions the Polykleitian, classical aesthetic tradition of beauty as the sole result of measurable shapes and introduces into art theory the novel metaphysical imagery of light and brilliance, which became popular, as we have seen, throughout the Middle Ages.

     Daphnis, like Antonakos, interweaves the ideas of Polykleitos with those of Plotinus, bringing forth once again the philosophy of Heraclitus on the harmonic coexistence of the opposites.  Daphnis appropriates the idea of analogies and relations but gives enormous emphasis to color as well.  Contrary to Antonakos who intentionally limits his morphological and colorist repertory, Daphnis explores all the geometrical shapes that are available and plunges into the freedom that color offers. 

     But let us turn to the very beginning of Daphnis’ geometric art when he was still under the spell of the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, an artist that he deeply admired for his search of purity, universality, and perfection in abstract painting. Mondrian, the founder of neo-plasticism, another very important geometric movement of early twentieth century art, dogmatically professed the exclusive use of the primary colors (blue, red, and yellow) and of the non-colors (black, white, and gray) as well as of perpendicular and horizontal lines that form right angles.  Elaborating on his views, Mondrian wrote in 1919: “This new plastic idea will ignore the particulars of appearance, that is to say, natural form and color.  On the contrary, it should find its expression in the abstraction of form and color, that is to say, in the straight line and the clearly defined primary color”.

     Daphnis originally adhered faithfully to Mondrian’s use of the prime colors which satisfied his need, as he writes, to create “art that can last through time”.[16]  However, he did not confine himself to the severe restrictions of the horizontal and perpendicular lines but introduced circles and diagonals, among a variety of geometrical shapes later to be added to his morphological repertory.  He even went a step further, questioning Mondrian’s descriptive use of the line as a black contour that defines shapes and encapsulates color.[17]  In a series of works, dating from 1957, in which Daphnis applies Mondrian’s right angle principle, lines are no longer black but are composed of the primaries and have a life and energy of their own.  Color itself is liberated from linear enclosures and is smoothly spread on the canvas, creating geometrical forms.

     A year later, in 1958, Daphnis began making paintings that were even more laconic in their extreme aesthetic simplicity and use of minimal means.  Parallel straight colored bands   of different widths were placed on the canvas in a horizontal or perpendicular order.  In these paintings, magna paint was used, a newly developed acrylic based medium that allows light to penetrate it and creates a luminous effect.  Furthermore, magna paint can be applied with total uniformity, hiding the hand-made, painterly quality of a work of art and enhancing it with a smooth industrial look. 

     Daphnis’ reductive paintings of the late 1950s have been seen as precursors of mimimal art due to their aesthetic radicality and devotion to purity, as New York art critic, April Kingsley, has observed. [18] Minimalism, an important American avant-guarde movement, was formed in the 1960s.  The minimalists, like Daphnis and Antonakos, took advantage of the visual richness offered by the simplicity of geometrical means, exemplifying the Bauhaus dictum “less is more”.[19]  Among their basic concerns was the industrial, non man-made aesthetic which was prophetically exploited earlier by Daphnis. From the late 1950s on, this new cool look, which results from the uniform approach to and equal treatment of the whole, became a typical characteristic of Daphnis’ art, whether he used magna paint or the new reflective media of epoxy and enamel.

     Around this time (late 50s), he departed from Mondrian’s views on color in order to formulate his own theory according to which colors advance or recede into space depending on their density.  Daphnis believes that each color exists in its own planar area with black occupying the frontal planes and white expanding into infinity; black is followed by blue and red whereas yellow is closer to white.

     The Greek philosopher Plato professed that purity in whiteness does not depend on the quantity of white but on its freedom from any admixture of other colours.  The purest white, said Plato, is the most unadulterated and it is, thus, “to be deemed truest and most beautiful” (Philebus, 53).

     In exclusively selecting the primary colours for their purity, Mondrian was following Plato’s views. Daphnis continues to adhere to Mondrian’s basic principle of the primaries but largely enriches the colour scale by also exploiting the various ranges of blue, red, and yellow, from dark to light and vice versa.  He, nonetheless, remains curiously Platonic in spirit in that his planar theory does not include admixtures of different colours, the reason being that they have lost, as he believes, both their purity and energy. [20]

     Like Antonakos, Daphnis also activates space without employing actual mechanical movement.  However, instead of utilizing the intense glow of light in order to achieve his goal, Daphnis simply applies his planar theory, taking advantage of the spatial advancements and recessions of colour that produce dynamic, vibrating tensions.  The backward and forward thrust of colours pulls the viewer in and out of the painting’s space, creating rhythms that largely depend on repetition and symmetry.

     “Visual balance”, says Daphnis, “has always been one of my principles”.  Balance, an a priori concern of Mondrian as well, is frequently achieved in Daphnis’ paintings through the division of the canvas into two or more equal parts that host identical geometrical compositions.  The painted units are mirrored from top to bottom, from left to right, or from both directions at once, alluding to the idea of reflections.

     As we saw, the late 1950s paintings predicted in some respects minimal art; however, Daphnis never adhered to the main principles of the minimalists who propagated, among other things, that compositional arrangement is not important.[21] On the contrary, from the 1960s on, Daphnis fully exploits compositional effects in order to evoke the dynamic motion of the universe.  His paintings -whether thematically preoccupied with magnetic waves, with memories of the Aegean, or with intergalactic space- vibrate, radiate, and pulsate as if they are seeking to break the borders of the frame and expand into infinity. His secret, metaphysical desire “to go beyond what we know”, “to go where no man has gone before”[22] drastically differentiates Daphnis from the pragmatic minimalist tenet, exemplified by Frank Stella’s famous phrase “what you see is what you see”.[23]  

     Cris Gianakos’ theoretical stand in being called a geometrical artist is clear cut.  To him the term “geometrical art”, as used by most writers on modernism, confines his work to the use and artistic application of the science of geometry and disregards the conceptual and poetic aspect which is present in much of the art of this specific tendency.  Gianakos, like Dahnis and contrary to the minimalist credo, places emphasis on the implications of a work of art and on its codified message to the viewer.  Furthermore, he stresses the creative aspect of the human instinct as well as the free associations evoked by forms. 

     As we have seen, he is not the only one to believe that the use of geometrical shapes, structural concerns, and order should not be connected to mere illustrations of scientific principles.   Gabo, the Russian Constructivist we have referred to, one of the rare geometrical artists who had a deep knowledge of mathematics and civil engineering -due to the scientific academic background he had received in Universities in Munich- had professed the same thought.  In a lecture on the Fine Arts, given in 1959, Gabo said: “…I have to defend my own art from the accusation which I often hear –that my sculptures are mathematical formulas- and to insist that I can quite well use a rectangle or a circle whenever I need these shapes in my image without paying a heavy toll and tribute to the scientist for them, and that I do so on my own inherited human right of vision.  I have to remind the public that my ancestors, the artists of the cave, saw the sun and moon and represented them as circles long before the scientist had made a compass to draw a circle and calculate its measurements”.[24]

     Gabo’s influence on Gianakos does not only lie in the latter’s negation of the supremacy of mathematics over the instinctive use of pure geometrical shapes; it also lies in the aspiration to grasp the collective consciousness of the era and express through art what Gabo has described as “the new outlook on the world around”.[25] This direct relationship to modern reality is elaborated by Gabo: “From the very beginning of the Constructive movement it was clear to me that a constructed sculpture, by its very method and technique, brings sculpture very near to architecture.  My works of this time, up to 1924, are all in the search for an image which would fuse the sculptural element with the architectural element into one unit”.[26]

     Gabo’s thought is in accord with Gianakos’ theoretical ideas.  The ramps, his most characteristic works from the mid 70s onwards, are closely related to architectural structures; the artist admits observing construction sites and being attracted to buildings and bridges that are under way, their engineering left bare. For Gianakos, it is the process that counts; therefore, many of his rampworks are open sculptures that allow the viewer to see in detail their skeleton, get a clear sense of its method of construction and a deeper understanding of his personal creative act.  This pragmatic and down to earth, structural approach coexists with the conceptual aspect of Gianakos’ sculptures which is partly due to the use and significance of the diagonal, one of the most dominant forms in his art.

     Heraclitus, who also propagated the unity of the opposites, had written that the “way up and the way down are one and the same”[27], a statement that has received since multiple philosophical interpretations.  According to the neo-platonic view, Heraclitus referred to the voyages of the soul,[28] a conceptual concern that can also be detected in Gianakos’ sculptures.  His ramps, which are Heraclitian in spirit, stand both as an ascent and a descent, as levitation and fall.  However, the visual strength of the diagonal tends to finally lead the viewer’s glance up and into the sky.  Gianakos discreetly helps the spectator reach the “upward-leading experience” we have come across by appropriating perspective in nature: the distance tricks the human eye-sight, making the diagonal shape which has equal width frequently appear thinner as it recedes in space; it penetrates infinity and dynamically draws the viewer along.

     Gianakos constructs his sculptures out of permanent industrial materials that are also used in architecture, such as wood, steel, metal, stone, and glass. These materials are usually left intact, demonstrating their natural substance and reminding us that they are actually more primeval than they are new.  The artist enjoys delving into the past, evoking memories that may be further associated with his rampworks.  He refers to the inclined street where he used to play as a child and to his reminiscence of struggle. The playground is another vivid flashback; indeed, some of Gianakos’ ramps -such as “Styx” of 1987 which is permanently installed at the University of Long Island, set against the New York City skyline- recall unusual playground slides.  “Styx” is composed of two converting diagonals that are connected to each other by means of a horizontal passageway that originally served as a stage upon which dancers performed.  Gianakos invites the viewer to physically experience this work of art, to walk on it, explore it, and get a sincere feeling of it both by ascending and descending it.  In “Styx”, the simple viewer senses “the upward leading experience”, as in most ramps, but the active participant reaches a heightened perception as he is initiated to the full Heraclitian truth of ascent and descent as being parts of an harmonious whole.

     When thinking of the historical past, Gianakos mentions that the pyramids of Egypt may have also had an influence on him.  The simple geometrical shape of these monumental royal tombs occasionally appears in the rampworks; however, in following his personal concerns, Gianakos transforms the closed and smooth pyramidal form of the Egyptians into an open structure that once again displays its complex support system. 

     Greater in importance is the artist’s recollection of his archaeological visits to the palace of Phaistos on the island of Crete.  Gianakos’ mother is Cretan, from a small village named Kasteli; after his first visit to Greece in 1957, Gianakos began systematically coming to the island to spend part of his summer vacation.  During one of his early stays, he went to the Minoan site of Phaistos where he returned several times.  Walking through the passageways of Greek antiquity and observing how light softened the edges of the timeless stones, Gianakos experienced a unique mystical journey that took him far back in time.

     The labyrinthine paths of the palace of Minos were geometrically simplified by the artist and turned into straight sculptural passageways with high walls and intricate support systems. On a first level, these works recall contemporary bridges or tunnels more than they recall their original Minoan inspirational source. On a second level, however, one observes that Gianakos has taken into account the viewer’s perpetual change of psychological moods as he or she traverses the works, a concern that was seriously considered in Minoan architecture as well.

     Gianakos’ sculptural paths that unite two different spots in space, allegorically portray the passage of time and poetically set off the neo-platonic notion of the “voyage of the soul”, alluding to the spectator’s transition from one existential state of being to another.

     Participation and physical experience, as we have seen, play an important role.  Recently, Gianakos has gone a step further, creating out of cubes and other elementary shapes utilitarian sculptural benches that recall the Bauhaus credo “form follows function”. These works, that fully retain their artistic quality, naturally derive from the black monochromatic series of sculptures, in which the ideas of smoothness, clarity, exactitude, and geometrical reduction have been fully exploited. 

     Gianakos likes to frequently juxtapose these functional sculptures, which invite the viewer to rest and contemplate, with his drawings and paintings; these two-dimensional works are always executed on mylar, a material used by architects when designing their construction projects.  Imbued by the memory of Phaistos, the drawings and paintings occasionally depict blurred edges; usually, however, they are characterized by the clear precision and accuracy of geometry as well as by the reduction of the color scale to black and white.

     Knowing Gianakos and his delight in interweaving different moments in time, it comes as no surprise that he would attempt to openly fuse the ancient Greek spirit with today’s hard-edge geometry. Actual interventions on historical Greek sites, in the sense that Antonakos intervenes on modern buildings, are strictly forbidden for obvious reasons. Gianakos overcomes this problem in a Platonic way, emerging into the realm of ideas which is removed from actual reality.  He prints photographic images of archaeological sites and sculptures on mylar paper and traces on them imaginary, minimal interventions.  His direct goal is to reveal the hidden geometry in ancient Greek architecture and art and to demonstrate its deliberate similarities to the current world.  His indirect aim is possibly to extol the uniqueness of geometry as a language that was favored in the past and is still favored today not only by mathematicians but also by philosophers and artists.

     As Odysseas Elytis, the contemporary Greek poet and Nobel prize winner, wrote: “taking advantage of the minimum in order to extract the maximum out of it, is the hardest and most Greek of secrets”.[29] 

    It is precisely this timeless truth that the three Hellenes of the diaspora possess, a truth that is strongly reflected in the laconic nature of their art.


Bia Papadopoulou

Art Historian





[1] Papadopoulou, interview with Stephen Antonakos, July 2000.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Stephen Antonakos, Neons and Drawings, Rose Art Museum Catalogue.  Brandeis University, Waltham, M.A., 1986.

[4] Naum Gabo, “Sculpture: Carving and construction in space”, 1937.  Herschel B.Chipp, with contributions by Peter Selz & Joschua Taylor. Theories of  Modern Art: A SourceBook by Artists and Critics, University of California Press: 1968, p. 330-337.  All other references to Gabo, mentioned in Antonakos’ text, are from the same essay.

[5] Naum Gabo: Sixty Years of Constructivism, edited by Steven A.Nash & Jorn Merkert, Prestel-Verlag, Munich: 1985, p.21.

[6] Stephen Antonakos, “Day into Night, Night into Day”, Notes prepared for the 1st European conference “Sculpture in the City”, organized by the House of Fine Arts and Letters, Athens & the European Cultural Centre of Delphi, held at Zappeion, Athens, Oct. 12-14, 1995.

[7] Antonakos, “Day into Night, Night into Day”, ibid.


[9] Stephen Antonakos, “Memory Notes”, January 1993.

[10] Moshe Barasch, Theories of  Art: From Plato to Winkelmann, New York University Press, N.Y. & London: 1985, p. 93.

[11] Barasch, ibid., p. 94.

[12] Papadopoulou, interview with Antonakos, ibid.

[13] Nassos Daphnis, “Narrative Account”, unpublished text.

[14] Daphnis, ibid.

[15] Barasch, ibid., p. 42.

[16] Daphnis, ibid.

[17] Louis Zona, in Nassos Daphnis, Colour and Form: A Retrospective, Boca Raton Museum of Art & The Butler Institute of American Art: 1993, p. 41.

[18]Zona, ibid., p. 47.

[19] As expressed by Mies, in Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology, ed. By Gregory Battcock, University of California Press: 1995, p. 155.

[20]Zona, ibid., p. 44.

[21] As expressed by Donald Judd who states that the non-importance of compositional arrangement is a rather new aspect in art, Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology, p. 155.

[22] Zona, ibid., p.94.

[23]  Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology, p. 158.

[24] Naum Gabo, Of Divers Arts, The A.W.Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts, 1959.  Bollingen Series, XXXV 8, Pantheon, p. 25-26.

[25] Nash, ibid., p. 12.

[26] Nash, ibid., p. 23.


[28] G.S.Kirk, Hράκλειτος: Κοσμολογικά Αποσπάσματα, Πολύτυπο, Αθήνα: 1985, p. 171.

[29] Cristos Gianakos, text by Yorghos Tzirtzilakis, Thessaloniki Cultural Capital of Europe: 1997.