Myth is important in Kounellis’ work, as is the theater: he has worked as a set designer and the large retrospective show commemorating his forty years of artistic activity, held in Rome in 2002, was entitled “Atto Unico” (one-act play).
Greek-born Kounellis has lived in Italy since 1956. In his second illy collection, he resumes the culture of his homeland. The cups feature four heroines in Greek tragedy: Antigone, Phaedra, Persephone and Electra. There is nothing heroic about them, however: on the contrary, they are represented as broken dolls, with severed heads and limbs. Blotches of black ink ooze like blood onto the saucers. Each signed and numbered cup by Greek-born artist Jannis Kounellis bears the name of a heroine from classical Greek tragedy—Electra, Antigone, Phaedra and Persephone—juxtaposed with modern symbolic images of dolls and inkblots. Beautifully gift boxed, each set includes four signed and numbered espresso cups and saucers, an 8.8 oz. can of illy and a Kounellis Collection brochure. Jannis Kounellis is a founding member of the Italian Arte Povera movement whose works challenge the conventional interpretation of art and often contain a political or social dimension. Born in Greece, Kounellis currently makes his home in Rome.
Greek artist Jannis Kounellis (Born in Pireo, in 1936) is one of the major exponents of the movement 'Arte Povera'. He lives in Italy and his work is characterised by classical echoes and citations, which Kounellis intends as symbols of a lost language that is, however, necessary to understand the present.
The artist interprets the illy collection taking the cue from this reflection. Each of the four cups has the name of a heroin of the Greek tragedies - Electra, Antigone, Fedora and Persephone hand-written on the outer surface of the cup, which shows fragments of a doll the head and the upper and lower limbs - whereas blots of black ink decorate the saucers.
The bottom of the Kounellis cups mentions "illy collection 2005", however the exhibition already started on July 14th 2004 and from that time the Kounellis set was exclusively available at the museum site of the exhibition and all around Greece. In Italy it was available from September through the e-shops