Zongolopoulos George (1903 - 2004)

He was born in 1902 (or 1903) in Athens. He studied sculpture at the Athens School of Fine Arts under Thomas Thomopoulos (1924-1930). He worked in the Ministry of Education for several years (1926-1927 and 1930-1938), where he engaged in architectural studies, restoration, and construction of schools and churches. Architecture always attracted him, and he often cooperated with architects and worked himself as a ‘self-taught architect’.
In his first solo exhibition (Zachariou gallery, 1948) he presented a mature figurative sculptural style, which would evolve dramatically over the next years, in accordance with the trends of international modern art. This was encouraged by his postgraduate studies in Paris on a French state scholarship (1949-1950, Marcel Gimond’s studio) and in Italy on a greek state scholarship (I.K.Y., 1952-1954), where he studied the techniques of copper casting in Rome and Pistoia.
The main feature of his work is the constant renewal of forms, materials, mediums, and its relationship with space. His art utilizes light and movement, the relationship between positive and negative space, shapes and sounds, in an endless dialogue with space. This feature applies to his entire work, including the memorial monument of Zaloggo, the architectural landscaping of Omonia Square (1954-1960), his abstract sculptures of the '60s, his kinetic sculptures after 1970, the use of water and lenses in the ‘80s, his renowned Umbrellas in 1990, and even to his work installed in the Syntagma station of the Athens Metro.
He was an active member of several art groups (‘Techni’, Union of Free Artists, ‘Stathmi’, ‘Tomi’, Contemporary Art Association, Group for Communication and Education in Art). He was also a member of the selection committee of the Greek State Scholarship Foundation (1957-1959). He taught drawing at the Sivitanidios School of Arts and Crafts (1933-1944). Since 1953, he was member of the European Society of Culture (Société Européenne de Culture), and also a member of its Executive Board (1960-1988). He participated in international high-level meetings and represented Greece in international art fairs. He participated in the Venice Biennale several times (1940, 1956, 1964, 1993, and 1995). He was honored with several awards and distinctions (some of which he declined). Many of his works are situated at public spaces, while others were never implemented.
A few months before his death (Athens, 2004) he established the George Zongolopoulos Foundation, located at his home-studio. In 2008, a retrospective exhibition of his work was held at the Athens Megaron. A monograph on his work was published in 2009.