Pappas Yannis (1913 - 2005)

He was born in 1913 in Constantinople (today Istanbul, Turkey). His family moved to Athens after the Asia Minor Disaster (1922). He studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris (1930-1932) with Jean Boucher, while attending law classes at the University. He stayed and worked in Paris for several years, where he created busts and statues of his artists-friends and models of monumental sculptures. In 1937 he was awarded the gold medal at the Paris International Exhibition.
In 1939 he returned to Greece for his military service, and in 1940, he was awarded at the last pre-war nationwide exhibition (Panellinios) and continued to work until 1944, when he enlisted in the Royal Navy and served in Alexandria, Egypt. He stayed there until 1951, studied the monuments of Egyptian art and organized his first solo exhibition (1950).
In 1953 he was elected professor of sculpture at the Athens School of Fine Arts, where he taught until 1978. As director of the School (1959-1969) he took the initiative in restoring its premises, opening new studios, creating a reading room and upgrading the regional art centres. After his resignation (1978), the Ministry of Education awarded him the title of Honorary Director of the School.
In 1972, he became a corresponding member of the French Academy and since 1980 he also became regular member of the Academy of Athens.
He was one of the most important and prolific Greek sculptors of the postwar era. His technique presents subtle but significant deviations from classical sculpture, with elements from the french post-Rodin aesthetics and the archaic and Egyptian structural principles. He created a large number of statues of historical personalities (politicians, heroes, benefactors, clergy, writers etc.), which adorn the Athens city centre and many other cities in Greece and abroad. He also created equestrian statues, busts, monuments, reliefs and other sculptures. His paintings are equally interesting, as well as his drawings, which often served as model studies for his sculptures.
His solo exhibitions and his group participations have been held in Greece and abroad. In 1978 he represented Greece at the Venice Biennale. In 1992, his retrospective exhibition was organized at the Athens National Art Gallery and in 1999 an exhibition of his paintings was held at the Benaki Museum.
Among others, his following books have been published: Writings on Art (translations, 1993), Writings (1994), Small collection (1999) and three albums with his artistic work: Drawings 1930-1965 (1990), Painting 1936-1974 (1998) and Sculpture (2002).
He donated his studio and its entire content (hundreds of sculptures and paintings) to the Benaki Museum in 2002, three years before his death (Athens, 2005).