To Vima, Kosmas Vidos, 03.08.1997

To Vima, Kosmas Vidos, 03.08.1997

George Zongolopoulos

''I am not interested for the commercialism''

George Zongolopoulos is a very serious artist. An artist that was never interested in becoming commercial. That was the conclusion of the majority of people who are involved in the Greek art scene when they were asked for the purchasing price of Zongolopoulos' artworks. The art critics and the art historians are fond of the famous artist and that is not a result of good public relations ''we did not deal with them at all'' claim the people who studied his work ''because he is one of the most important sculptors not only of his generation but also the new generations, an artist with moral value and quality'' stated the gallery owner Pegki Zoumboulakis.

George Zongolopoulos' contribution, in the last fifty years to Greek art, is known and is often noted by scholars. The sculptor has managed ''to invigorate the admiration of the art people with the dynamism of his artworks'' as Takis Mavrotas stated who is the curator of the Pieridis Foundation. That is the main reason why Zongolopoulos is considered as one of the most notable Greek artists according to the research that ''Vima'' conducted. ''It is not random or unfounded to say that Zongolopoulos is one of the most commercial artists although he had never pursued something like that'' Mavrotas completed.

That was also stated by the 94 year old artist "What is all this about with the commerciality?" he said, "These things are unacceptable, I am not interested! Not to mention that with all these things that you write, the tax office will catch me for nothing". He has humor but he seems totally determined not to equalize art and money.

*Value and time

''I have noticed that all artists, who are presented in your research, deny the term 'commercial' while at the same time it is a fact that the commercialism of art has become very dangerous. '' P. Zoumboulakis states. ''For artists, time is the factor that will define them according to their work's quality''. At that point she noted the special case of Zongolopoulos and highlighted his honesty not only in words but also in practice '' I am not interested in commercialism''. She also stated: ''All the above, have no special reference to Zongolopoulos' work. He is an artist who creates works of intelligence, humor and charm; works that mirror the artist who is still creative and spiritual''.

Born in 1903 in Athens, he studied at the Fine Arts School and afterwards he worked for a decade at the Architectural Department of the Ministry of Education. In 1948,he received a scholarship and went to Paris and some years after he continued his studies in Italy. In 1933, he appeared for the first time as sculptor while in 1948 he conducted in Athens his first exhibition. From that point, many international exhibitions followed. At the same time he did many big scale sculptures for which he was awarded, such as: The Monument of Zalongo, Omonia Square reformation, the big scale sculpture at the entrance of the National Exhibition in Thessaloniki.

*Dashing proposals

Primarily, it was marble, then steel and onwards many different materials such as lenses, plexiglas, springs and other. Zongolopoulos' path through time was full of experiments and dashing proposals. Proposals that were valued by the art critics and the public offering to the artist recognition and raising the prices of the artworks. ''I think that the important artwork of an artist who has talent coincides with enthusiasm, love for life and priorities all of which have nothing to do with 'commercialism' " stated P. Zoumboulakis. ''I believe that Zongolopoulos' works will last in time and will be prominent in modern sculpting history.''

''George Zongollopoulos is a really important sculptor'' noted the critic and art historian Athina Schinas. ''He belongs with the artists who make space sculpting. Through his works he unravels the dynamic power of the unseen parameters in relation to the mass, the visual operation, the light, the movement and the distance. He uses water, magnifying lenses or other elements such as the umbrellas to note the importance of the above factors along with the notions of rhythm, correlation, transparency and periodicity that are prominent at his creations. Moreover, in his works, poetic dimension and meaning, are harmonically combined.''

''The visualizing creator of this modern sculpture, without getting ideas from other artists'' as Mavrotas states ''managed to climb on the art scale'' . ''The most commercial artworks are those that are made with lenses, stainless steel, plexiglas and create a non-stop game of transformations: shapes and figures, range and power''…''Like the artwork 'Lens and Umbrella', 'Umbrellas and Lens' or ' Lens and Leaf'. For the artwork that was presented in Venice in 1991, it is undoubtedly one of the most important steps in his career.''

''Although I don't deal with trading artworks because that is a field with no artistic factors, I believe that the quality of Zongolopoulos' works, their small production number, the awards that he gained and the important reviews that critics gave him are the main reasons why we can consider his creation as commercial as well'' stated A. Schinas. The famous art critic suggests that the artworks with lenses and umbrellas are those that mainly attract buyers. We must, however, take into serious consideration the monuments that he designed as well. The importance is derived from the period that an artwork was made in, the proposals that are implied, the aesthetic interventions and the philosophy behind a work. The artists that respect themselves respect their creations also and they are not affected by their works commerciality. Definitely, Zongolopoulos belongs to this category who is far above all these.''

*Financial recognition

Although Zongolopoulos' artworks are bought for millions of drachmas and that could be something that would help the artist's life, he does not concern himself with these high prices. '' If an artist is considered commercial, that does not mean that he is also important or talented because prices have to do with factors such as marketing, trends or public relations'' says P. Zoumboulakis, who notices that Zongolopoulos' commercialism is just a result of his importance.

''The prices depend on the artist's morality towards the art and on his fans'' suggests T. Mavrotas. ''Zongolopoulos serves art, expression of the aesthetic values and he disregards commercialism. Therefore, all of his works represent the pure joy of their creator when making them''. That joy is the main reason why the artworks have a high purchasing value. Zongolopoulos, even though he did not pursue commercialism, has managed to be considered ''expensive'' because he used his talent and passion in his work, because he was more interested in art and not in being famous. His art made his famous.


The prices of his artworks

At the exhibition at Bernie Gallery in the '80s, Zongolopoulos presented small sculptures with umbrellas which were sold for 4 million drachmas. Observing the art stock market, it is obvious that his work attracts buyers. It is not strange that his old artworks are sold higher than the new ones. However, no big differences are noted.

For example, works of the period 1960-65 are nowadays sold from 2,5-9 million drachmas. Also, big scale models are sold for 900.000 - 1.500.000 drachmas.


Recent small scale creations cost from 800.000 to 1,5 million drachmas. There are also big scale sculptures that are pre-ordered and therefore the price depend on the deal.