NEW YORK – A guest of the Paris American Club, Christos Markogiannakis presented his latest book, The Orsay Murder Club, on May 14 at the National Arts Club in Manhattan’s Gramercy neighborhood.
Markogiannakis was born in Heraklion in 1980. He studied Law and Criminology in Athens and Paris. Today, he lives in Paris, where he conducts his doctoral research on the crime scene in French painting.
Additionally, as an artist, he creates installations that combine art with crime (criminart). Among his previously published books are On the 5th Floor of Law, The Crime at Vouliagmeni Beach, and The Louvre Murder Club.
The French-American audience received Markogiannakis warmly, as he spoke about his latest book.
In The Orsay Murder Club, he explores works of art depicting homicides, as crime scenes whose causes he attempts to unravel.
President of New York’s Paris American Club John F. Bennett told The National Herald, “What’s amazing about Christos is how his work has evolved. His idea, combining modern statistical studies on crime worldwide, makes all ancient history and art come alive in front of your eyes. His work is really moving and challenging.”
Markogiannakis began his speech referring to the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, a former train station, transformed into a renowned museum.
Using the space of the museum as a starting point, the author led the audience on a journey through history and mythology, discussing murderers, femme fatales, cursed families, cannibals, and even contemporary crimes. Legendary artists such as Moreau, Cezanne, Carpeau, and Rodin, according to the author, have something in common. All of them, sometime in the course of their career, have been inspired by, and have captured in their works, homicides.
“With my writing, I combine two great passions. My professional passion for crime and my personal passion for art,” said Markogiannakis adding that, “every museum from the Louvre to the Metropolitan Museum of New York, we visit and see murders. Why? Because art has been inspired for centuries by Greek and Roman mythology, biblical stories, and historical events. Unfortunately, all of these contain ‘blood’ and crimes in large quantities. There has never been a society without crime.”
According to Markogiannakis, the father of criminart is the 19th century author Thomas De Quincey, the English essayist, best known for his Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821). And as Markogiannakis said, De Quincey claims that “we should face homicide as one of the fine arts. Of course, we should do everything we can to prevent the crime and save potential victims. But if the victim is already dead, all we have to do is leave the moral and legal part of homicide to the experts – judges and priests – and analyze the aesthetic aspect of the crime.”
Clearly, this means that everyone can enjoy reading, telling, or retelling a crime story, or an artistic work on crime, without being a criminal himself.
Markogiannakis’s speech had the flawless circular form of a police novel. He opened his speech by showing a historical photograph from Orsay, from the time when it still functioned as a railroad station, asking us to identify within this panoramic image the greatest killer of all time.
Returning at the end to the same photo, he made the unexpected revelation. He pointed out a giant clock that still dominates one of the walls of the museum, thus revealing the killer. “The worst criminal is no other than time,” he said.
The next stop in the United States for the Greek writer was Washington, DC on May 17, for a book presentation at the Greek Embassy.
The event was also attended by the honorary guest Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations Ambassador Maria Theofili, fashion designer Patricia Field, Elizabeth Rose Daly, and Klitos Teklos.
Markogiannakis’ books are available online and in bookstores.