Cardi Gallery Kounellis

The Primordial Alphabet by Pioneering Artist Jannis Kounellis

TEFAF Meet the Experts programs celebrate the expertise of our world-renowned exhibitors, spotlighting exceptional objects and the stories they tell. Dive into the philosophies of the Arte Povera movement through this monumental work by Jannis Kounellis.

TEFAF Meet the Experts

MONDAY, MARCH 11, 2024

2PM–2.30PM CET

Registration is mandatory but free to TEFAF Maastricht ticket holders


Greek-born artist Jannis Kounellis (1936–2017) was a pioneering figure of post-war European art and a leading figure in the Italian art movement Arte Povera. Seeking to disrupt the commercial value of art, “Poveristi” often combined organic and mundane materials to comment on the shifting relationship between humankind and the natural environment. Kounellis’s practice encompassed ephemeral pieces and material objects, perfectly exemplifying the radical age of Arte Povera, in which the work of art existed to reject any representative form.

Untitled, 2006 combines several key elements of Kounellis’ rich visual and material vocabulary, such as metal plates, a bed base and men’s clothing. The panel is dotted with nine black coats that have been folded, implying the remnants of an ambiguous human presence. Another one is wrapped around a steel beam, suspended on the bed with metal wires, suggesting a domestic scene yet with highly extraneous materials. Overall, Kounellis' practice has developed as a spectacular mixture of painting, collages and the staging of installations, ‘environments', performances and theatrical shows, designed to express the tensions and the multiplicity, obscurity and fragmentation of its language. Kounellis conceived his mixed media works as paintings, referring to his signature metal backdrops as “sheets of paper.” A deep sensitivity to the interplay of lines, forms, colors. and textures serves as the basis of these works. In using earthly matter manipulated by nature, industry, and his own hand, Kounellis seeks to confront the viewer directly to explore what is at the heart of human life in the industrial age.


Cardi Gallery – originally Galleria Cardi – was founded in Milan, Italy in April 1972 by Renato Cardi to foster the work of those modern and contemporary Italian artists that he had started to presciently collect in the late 1960s. Renato built a distinguished collection that included artists like Cy Twombly, Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni and many others, all relatively unknown at the time, and over the years acquired works ranging from Arte Povera to Spatialism. 

IMG 1026 Chiara Adducchio
Chiara Ada Adducchio Gallery Manager

Location & Access

Programming will take place at the at the stand of the exhibitor at TEFAF Maastricht. Please note that TEFAF Programming is free with a valid ticket to TEFAF Maastricht. Do note that there is limited spots availability. If you have not registered for programming or bought your ticket for TEFAF Maastricht: click the button “sign up” and purchase your ticket for TEFAF Maastricht.

For questions about registration contact:
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Image: Jannis Kounellis, Untitled, 2006