Retrospective digs deep

The much anticipated retrospective exhibition of the work of Lucas Samaras, which is also the biggest art exhibition of this spring, opens Thursday at the National Gallery in Athens. Curated by Katerina Koskina and organized by the Ioannis F. Costopoulos Foundation, the exhibition includes more than 450 works that showcase the work of this reputable, Greek-born artist who emigrated to New York in 1948 and has been living there since. Among the works are the famous «Autopolaroid» series, polaroids that the artist took of himself in different, often nude, poses. Dating from the early 1970s, the series is probably the most extreme version of the artist’s tendency to reflect himself and his surroundings in his art. The artist has actually claimed that his work is about «discovering unknown territories of my surface self.» Before the polaroid self-portraits, Samaras started making sculptures from materials such as straight pins, forks or tinfoil and soon developed his famous «boxes,» assemblages whose box-like structure (many of them resemble books) is said to be a visual metaphor for the artist’s home or studio. Another well-known body of works is the «Chair Transformations» that Samaras has made since the late 1950s and which consist of sculptures shaped like chairs. Among the latest works are the so-called «Photofictions,» outdoor photographs that the artist has manipulated on the computer. Held two years after Samaras’s exhibition at the Whitney Museum, the current retrospective at the National Gallery is, according to the curator, the biggest exhibition on the work of Samaras ever held in Europe. The works on view are on loan from some of the biggest, mainly American, museums (the Metropolitan, the Whitney and many others) as well as from major private art collections around the world. The Pace Wildenstein Gallery in New York and the Renos Xippas Gallery in Paris have also collaborated in the project. The exhibition opens Wednesday evening at the National Gallery (50 Vas. Constantinou, 210.723.5937).

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