Yannis Tsarouchis at Wrightwood 659 in Chicago

Wrightwood 659 in Chicago will host the first U.S. exhibition devoted to the work of Yannis Tsarouchis (1910–1989), widely regarded as one of the greatest Greek painters of the 20th century. On view May 7–July 31, 2021, the exhibition will feature some 200 works, including paintings and works on paper from public and private collections in Greece and internationally. Together, these span the entire arc of the artist’s career, showing how he absorbed and transformed influences including Ancient Greek and Early Christian art; Byzantine mosaics, frescoes, and icon painting; Greek vernacular traditions: costume, ornament and shadow theater Karaghiozis; and also the new languages of modern art: Fauvism, Cubism, and Surrealism. During the military junta rule in Greece between 1967 and 1974, Tsarouchis worked in self-exile in Paris; in 1981 he established the Yannis Tsarouchis Foundation in Athens, which is to this day dedicated to the preservation and advancement of his work.

The exhibition is organized around several recurring subjects and structural devices present in Tsarouchis’s art: the exploration and staging of the Other Self in portraiture; the invention of new allegories; theater as a machine of image production; dance as an embodiment of realness; landscape as introspection; and difference and repetition.

Yannis Tsarouchis: Dancing in Real Life is curated by Androniki Gripari, Chair of the Yannis Tsarouchis Foundation in Athens, and Adam Szymczyk, former Artistic Director of Documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel (2013–2017). The exhibition is made possible by the Alphawood Foundation Chicago.

About Yannis Tsarouchis

While today Tsarouchis remains relatively little-known outside of Greece, he is unanimously recognized in his native country as its most important painter of the twentieth century. Born in 1910 in the Greek port city of Piraeus and educated at the School of Fine Arts in Athens, he began painting at an early age and earned his living as a set and costume designer for the theater. In 1935 Tsarouchis went to Paris for the first time, where he encountered the work of Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst and other artists of the Avant-garde. In 1938, at the age of 28, he had his first solo exhibition in Athens. After serving in the Greek army on the Albanian front in the Second World War, he returned to painting and working in the theater, gaining an international reputation. During Greece’s military dictatorship (1967–1974), Tsarouchis went into exile in Paris to then return to Athens, where he lived until his death in 1989.

Hours of Operation

Fridays and Saturdays, May 7–July 31, 2021
Fridays 12–7:30pm
Saturdays 10am–5:30pm


Tickets for the exhibition are $15 and available online only, beginning April 19 at  tickets.wrightwood659.org/events. Please note, admission is by advance ticket only and walk-ups are not permitted.

About Wrightwood 659

Established in 2018, Wrightwood 659 is a private, non-collecting institution devoted to socially engaged art and architecture. Located at 659 W. Wrightwood Avenue, in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, the intimate space officially opened in late 2018 and presents two public exhibitions annually. Wrightwood 659 was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando, who transformed a 1920s building with his signature concrete forms and poetic treatment of natural light. For additional information: https://wrightwood659.org.

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