New York, 1926 - 2013

Stephen Antonakos

Stephen Antonakos grew up in Laconia, Greece and migrated to New York at the age of four where he lived in Bayridge, Brooklyn. After high school, Antonakos served in the war for two years and later attended The New York State Institute for Applied Arts and Sciences where he studied commercial illustration. In the 50s and early 60s, Antonakos began his career by utilizing vellum, pillows, pipes, cloth, and found objects as a means of producing sculptures and drawings. Unsatisfied with his works, Antonakos roamed the streets of New York City where he found his calling in the bright lights of Times Square. Inspired by neon, Antonakos focused on lighted glass as his primary medium and manipulated it into various geometric forms and structures. His complete and incomplete neon shapes...

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Biography

Stephen Antonakos grew up in Laconia, Greece and migrated to New York at the age of four where he lived in Bayridge, Brooklyn. After high school, Antonakos served in the war for two years and later attended The New York State Institute for Applied Arts and Sciences where he studied commercial illustration. In the 50s and early 60s, Antonakos began his career by utilizing vellum, pillows, pipes, cloth, and found objects as a means of producing sculptures and drawings. Unsatisfied with his works, Antonakos roamed the streets of New York City where he found his calling in the bright lights of Times Square. Inspired by neon, Antonakos focused on lighted glass as his primary medium and manipulated it into various geometric forms and structures. His complete and incomplete neon shapes ranged from painted canvases and sculptures to indoor and outdoor installations. Antonakos believed light, scale and proportion were essential properties in providing a direct and real experience for the viewer in relation to space. He commonly referred to his art as “real things in real space,” referring to an immediate visual moment created through pure abstract linearity and spatial color. Along with Dan Flavin and Bruce Nauman, Antonakos was a pioneer in transitioning commercial lighting into fine art. Yet unlike his contemporaries, Antonakos utilized light in an architectural and structural way to create spiritual effects. For instance, a number of his works invovle neon lights hidden behind painted canvases of silver or gold, referring to the glowing halos of Saints in Byzantine iconography. Antonakos’s works commonly reference his Greek upbringing and are motifs in his light art as well as sculptural works, such as the Chapel Rooms. Starting in the 1970s, Antonakos would have installed over 55 permanent public installations in the US, Europe, Israel, and Japan. Other major practices including reliefs, prints and performance art involving Robert Ryman, Sol Lewitt, and Christo were continued until the end of his life in 2013.

Artworks

4

Untitled Drawing, #6, January 17, 2001

Related Categories

20th Century Art / 21st Century Art / Abstract Painting / Abstraction / American Art / Art of the 1960s / Art of the 1970s / Art of the 1980s / Art of the 1990s / Art of the 2000s / Color and Form / Color Pencil / Color Pencil on Paper / Contemporary American Art / Drawing / Gentle and Smooth Brushstrokes / Geometric Abstraction / Geometric Expression / Greece / Light Art / Mixed Media Art / Neon / Neon and Fluorescent Light / Neon Light Sculpture / New York / Paper / Pencil / Pencil on Paper / Primary Colors / Public Art / Restrained Expression / Sculpture / Sensory Experience / Space/Spatiality / United States / Wood