NEW YORK – The Hellenic American Cultural Foundation (HACF) presented Stephen Antonakos: A Modernist’s Byzantium, Concert and Panel Discussion on November 20, at The Morgan Library & Museum, Gilder Lehrman Hall, in Midtown Manhattan.
Dr. Helen C. Evans, Mary and Michael Jaharis Curator of Byzantine Art at the Metropolitan Museum, and Robert Storr, artist, curator, and critic, discussed the Byzantine manifestations found throughout six decades of the late Greek-American artist Antonakos’ work. Projected images illustrated Evans’ presentation on both the Modernist and the Byzantine aspects of his art.
Antonakos (Greece, November 1, 1926-New York, August 17, 2013) started using neon around 1960, always in abstract forms, at vastly different scales and with various material combinations. His practice has lent the medium new perceptual and formal meanings in hundreds of gallery and museum shows in New York and internationally.
His use of spare, complete and incomplete geometric neon forms has ranged from linear and 3-D indoor installations to painted Neon Canvases, Walls, Panels with painted or gold surfaces, Rooms, and Chapels. Drawing and collage also were constant practices. His work is included in major international collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC; and the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens.
The event began with a piano concert by modernist musician Idith Meshulam Korman performing piano pieces by the Greek composer Nikos Skalkottas, as an introduction to the conceptual connections between Skalkottas’ compositions and Antonakos’ work.
HACF Chairman Nicholas Kourides gave the welcoming remarks, thanking all those in attendance for their support, and noting the presence of prominent guests at the event, including Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras and philanthropist Mary Jaharis. Kourides pointed out that the many artistic and cultural events the Greek Consulate has organized during Mr. Koutras’ tenure and the HACF’s own events which have raised the bar very high for community events in New York. He also thanked the HACF Board of Directors, especially Peter T. Bazos and Marilena Christodoulou for their efforts in organizing the evening’s presentation. Kourides then turned the microphone over to Naomi Spector Antonakos, the artist’s widow, who served as the MC.
The well-attended event offered wonderful insights into Antonakos’ artwork and the connections between religious themes, Greek/Byzantine culture, and his personal artistic vision and expression, highlighted by the images of his work from throughout his career.
Evans and Storr participated in a lively Q&A session with the audience following their presentations on Antonakos. HACF Board of Directors President John Stratakis gave the closing remarks thanking everyone for their attendance at the organization’s last event of the year and noting that HACF’s over 30 events would not have been possible without the generous support of donors and encouraged everyone present to contribute to the nonprofit.
A reception followed with many offering congratulations to Kourides and the HACF for another fascinating cultural event.
More information about HACF is available online: hacfoundation.org.