Stephen Antonakos

American, Born 1926

Stephen Antonakos was born in Lanconia, Greece. He migrated to New York, graduating from Brooklyn Community College in 1947 with a Certificate in Art. “[S]ince oil painting was too slow for me to keep up with all of the ideas that were racing through my mind, I felt the physical and spontaneous process of putting various objects together was more suitable to what I needed to get done in those years,” he told Brooklyn Rail when the magazine interviewed him in 2007. Those new works were shown for the first time in 1957 at the Artist’s Gallery. The Martha Jackson Gallery featured him in its two overviews of assemblage work, New Forms -- New Media I and II, in 1960. He received positive reviews for his series of sewn pieces -- he nicknamed them the ‘Sewlages’ -- but it was not until two years later that he discovered the medium that came to dominate and define his career. “It was with the neons of 1962 that I felt that neon was a medium that I could explore endlessly.” A series of major neon exhibitions at the Fischbach Studios between 1967 and 1970 was followed by more installations, shows, and site-specific commissions -- “real things in real spaces,” he says. His art has appeared at the Venice Biennale, in Japan, across the United States, and many times in Greece.

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