Apartis Thanassis (1899 - 1972)

He was born in 1899, in Smyrna (Asia Minor). Since his teenage years in Smyrna, he came into contact with art, near the Armenian sculptor Papazian and the painter Vassilis Ithakisios. In 1919, he went to Paris and studied sculpture at the École des Beaux-Arts, at the Académie Julian and finally, at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière with Antoine Bourdelle, who influenced his work decisively. A small grant by Helena Venizelos enabled him to settle in Paris and to stay there until 1940, with brief travelling intervals to Greece.
During that time, he became a successful sculptor; he received orders from France and Greece and he frequently participated in Parisian Salons (Salon d' Automne, Salon des Tuilleries, Salon des Independants) or alternatively, he exhibited his works at his own studio.
Throughout the period of German occupation (1940-45), he returned to Greece where he continued to work. Afterwards, he resided alternately in Athens and Paris, until he permanently moved to Greece in 1956. From 1959 he taught at the Athens Technological Institute and in 1961 he was unanimously elected professor at the Athens School of Fine Arts, where he taught until 1969.
His art is anthropocentric, paying homage to the standards of ancient sculpture, with influences by Rodin and Bourdelle. Generally, he kept away from the ostentatious innovations that prevailed at the time. In his mature works, he encapsulates the form emphasizing on the relation of the sculptural volume with space. His monumental works and especially his busts of famous people, adorn today many public places in Greek cities.
He was honoured by the French government with the title of Chevalier de la Legion d 'Honneur (1939) and the medal Palmes Academiques (1947). In 1967, he was elected corresponding member of L’ Institut de France. In 1960, he was also bestowed Commander of the Order of the Phoenix in Greece.
He participated in the Biennales of Venice (1950) and São Paulo (1961). In 1962 he published his autobiographical book From East to West.
His first retrospective exhibition was held at Ora gallery in 1971, shortly before his death (Athens, 1972). Two more retrospective exhibitions followed, one at the Athens French Institute (1977, accompanied by a commemorative album), and one at the Athens National Art Gallery (1984).