In 1956, twenty-year-old, Greek-born Jannis Kounellis went to study art in Rome, where he still lives today. As early as 1967 he took part in the exhibition ‘Arte Povera e Spazio IM’ in Genoa which established his position as an important representative of Arte Povera. In his work Kounellis expands the range of artistic media to incorporate supposedly banal or crude everyday objects. Ephemeral phenomena such as smoke or living animals are also not unusual in his work. He has continuously managed to free himself from the constraints of the two-dimensional canvas; for Kounellis it is often a question of looking into the requirements art makes in terms of production and presentation. Since 1993 he has been teaching at the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie.
Although the majority of the more than twenty works included in the Brandhorst Collection are two-dimensional, the selection also includes Kounellis’ sculptural pieces. In addition to early fragile and lyrical works on paper, there are also paintings on canvas from the 1960s – an important period for the artist – figurative watercolours from the ’70s and a collage on steel from the ’80s. With his sculpture Senza titolo (1980) Kounellis positioned a stuffed parrot splattered with colour on the rim of a paint-pot and placed it on two volumes of the Arthur Rimbaud's complete works. With the multifaceted and humorously subversive power of suggestion in this work, the Brandhorst Collection owns a characteristic and particularly accessible work.