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Composition with Mandolin, Books and Apples



Yannis Moralis (1916-2009)
Composition with Mandolin, Books and Apples
oil on canvas laid on wood
AGLC 179 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

Dating from the eve of World War II, the earliest work by Moralis in the A. G. Leventis Foundation Collection is a naturalistic arrangement of musical instruments and objects in a dark palette. Made 15 years later, in 1954, the second work in the Collection, Composition, depicts two young women seated facing each other, hands on a table. One of the figures is nude, her chair draped with a white cloth, whereas the other is wearing a black robe. The palette ranges from blue through black, white and grey to ochre, warmed up by touches of reddish brown. In this work, the naturalistic approach has clearly receded, as both the figures and the elements of space are rendered with a certain schematisation that was ultimately to lead to the abstractive forms manifested in Moralis’ Funeral Compositions.

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About the artist

He graduated from the Athens School of Fine Arts in 1936 and in 1937 went to Rome with Nikos Nikolaou to study mosaic on scholarship from the Academy of Athens, but he soon moved to Paris. There, he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and the École des Arts et Métiers. He returned to Greece with the outbreak of World War II. In 1947 he became professor in the preliminary section of the Athens School of Fine Arts and ten years later in the department of painting, where he remained until 1983. His first solo exhibition was in 1959; he participated several times in group and international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale (1958) and the Tapestry Biennale in Lausanne (1965, 1972). He became a member of the International Institute of Arts and Letters (1962) and was conferred the Commander of the Phoenix (1979) and the Excellence in Arts and Letters Award of the Academy of Athens (1979). He also worked as a printmaker, potter, illustrator and stage designer, with the National Theatre of Greece, the Greek Dance Theatre and the Art Theatre. In 1988 there was a retrospective exhibition of his work at the National Gallery in Athens; this was followed by the artist making a large donation to the museum, which was exhibited in its entirety after his death (2011). He was a most influential artist in the development of Greek post-war art, through his work and long teaching career. His figurative painting, in both its naturalist and geometric periods, steadily revolved around the interlinked notions of eros and thanatos.

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