Eleni Vakalo, maiden name Stavrinou, was born in Constantinople in 1921. Her family's home country was the Dodecanese islands complex and they moved to Athens in 1923. She studied archeology at the University of Athens (1940-45) and in 1948, she went to Paris to attend graduate courses in art history at the Sorbonne.
Her activity spans mainly three intellectual domains: poetry writing, art criticism and education.
She published her first poems in 1944, under the encouragement of the poets Odysseus Elytis and Nikos Gatsos. Since then she published 14 collections of poetry. In 1991 she was awarded the 1st State Poetry Prize.
As an art critic she worked mainly for the newspaper Ta Nea (1952-74 with a two-year break during the dictatorship period) and for Zygos magazine (1955-1967). A selection of her articles was republished in 1996 in a two-volume edition of the Visual Arts Review 1952-1974, which won the Academy of Athens' Essay Award.
In 1958, along with her husband Yiorgos Vakalo, Panayiotis Tetsis and Frantzis Frantziskakis, they created the Vakalo School, the first applied arts school in Greece. She taught there history of art until 1980 and Visual Perception until 1990, while she was in the school's management board until the end of her life.
In addition to her numerous publications, her texts in exhibition catalogues and prefaces in albums and art publications, she wrote the following books: Introduction to Painting Subjects (1960), 12 Lessons for Contemporary Art (1970), The Concept of Forms (1975), Rhythms and Terms of European Art (1980), The Character of Postwar Art in Greece (4 volumes, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984), From the Viewer's Perspective (1989), The Loss of Form within Space ( 1994) and finally, shortly before her death, The Modern and the Postmodern: Connections and Distances (2001).
She gave many lectures and taught as a visiting professor in academic institutions and universities in Greece and abroad. She collaborated with Princeton University in the United States, to which she donated a large part of her archive, and which established a special scholarship for its study. She was awarded the title of Honorary Doctorate twice for her contribution to education and art theory (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 1998 and University of Derby, 2000). From 1994 until the end of her life she was a board member of the Athens National Art Gallery. She was also a member of the Greek Writers Society and AICA Hellas. Her works have been translated into many languages (english, french, german, serbo-croatian and romanian).
She died in 2001 in Athens.