Born in Athens in 1961. Kakanias attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, majoring in Textile Design, until 1979 that he moved to Paris. He attended the Studio Berçot where he studied Fashion and Art. He was also taught by the Italian artist and stage designer Lila de Nobili. Kakanias started his career at 22, working as an illustrator for newspapers and magazines such as French Vogue and Vogue Italia. He created textile designs for Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Lacroix. Kakanias moved to Luxor, Egypt to study Ancient Egyptian art (1983-1984). In 1988, Kakanias moved to New York City where he collaborated with Tiffany and Barneys New York. His drawings were published by The New York Times and Vanity Fair. In 1991 he dedicated himself completely to making art.

In 1996 Kakanias introduced his fictional heroine Mrs.Tependris for an illustrated New York Times Magazine article which gave him the Second Prize, International Award. Moved to Los Angeles in 1997. Most recently he created a collection for Swarovski and collaborated with Diane von Fürstenberg and DC Comics to create the comic book "Be The Wonder Woman You Can Be". He also created a series of illustrations for the perfumer Frederic Malle for Editions Malle.

Kakanias has done numerous private commissions. In 2004 Kakanias frescoed a church in Spain for Carolina Herrera Jr. His work belongs to many private and public collections in Greece, France, Italy, United Kingdom and the United States. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles and Greece.

 

Solo Exhibitions

  • 2009 Daniel, Rebecca Camhi Gallery, Athens, Greece
  • 2007 Split (lower and lower), Kalfayan Galleries, Athens, Greece
  • 2007 Split (higher and higher), Kalfayan Galleries with Association of the International Thessaloniki Film Festival, Thessaloniki, Greece
  • 2006 Time goes by …. so slowly (after Madonna), Installation at the Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, Greece
  • 2006 Pearl’s Dreams, Kim Light Gallery, Los Angeles, USA
  • 2004 Mrs Tependris …just before the Olympic Games in Athens, Foundation of the Hellenic World presented by the Greek Ministry of Culture in association with Rebecca Camhi Gallery, Athens, Greece
  • 2004 Konstantin Kakanias, drawings, Cano Estudio, Madrid, Spain
  • 2004 Arizona Ashram, Kalfayan Galleries, Thessaloniki, Greece
  • 2004 Masterpiece, Elizabeth Roberts Gallery, Washington D.C., USA (co-sponsored by the European Commission Delegation)
  • 2003 Her Hollywood Years: Part II, Galerie Jennifer Flay, Paris, France
  • 2002 Flashbacks, Works On Paper, Inc., Los Angeles, USA
  • 2002 New Paintings, Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, USA
  • 2000 Her Hollywood Years: Part 1, Works On Paper, Inc., Los Angeles, USA
  • 1999 A collector? A doyenne? A muse? An artist? – But who is she?, Postmasters Gallery, New York, USA
  • 1999 Small Heroes, Wigmore Fine Art, London, UK
  • 1999 Opere Recenti, Ciocca Arte Contemporanea, Milan, Italy
  • 1998 Yes, Yes, Yes, (exhibition and performance), Rebecca Camhi Gallery, Athens, Greece
  • 1997 Freedom or Death, Jane Stubbs, (exhibition and book presentation), New York, USA
  • 1997 Welcome to the Marl-boro World, Galerie Art et Public, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 1996 Art 27’96, Rebecca Camhi Gallery, Basel, Switzerland
  • 1996 Konstantin Kakanias, Rebecca Camhi Gallery, Athens, Greece
  • 1995 No More Stains, (exhibition and performance), Postmasters Gallery, New York, USA
  • 1994 Konstantin Kakanias, Postmasters Gallery, New York, USA
  • 1993 Bastille Day, Stubbs Books & Prints, New York, USA
  • 1992 Night Paintings, Galerie Pierre Passebon, Paris, France
  • 1992 Les Ruines des Plus Beaux Monuments de la Grèce, Stubbs Books & Prints, New York, USA

 

Group Exhibitions (selection)

  • 2012 The Newspaper Show, The Breeder gallery, Athens, Greece
  • 2011 Contemporary woman in Greece, The Hub, (curated by Marina Fokidis) Athens, Greece
  • 2010 Consider The Oyster, γκαλερί James Graham and Sons, Curated by Ingrid Dinter, New York, USA
  • 2009 Art La, Kalfayan Galleries, Los Angeles, USA
  • 2008 Art Athina, Kalfayan Galleries, Athens, Greece
  • 2008 How To Cook A Wolf: Part One, Dinter Fine Art, New York, USA
  • 2007 Common Objects, Dinter Fine Art, New York, USA
  • 2007 Visual Arts in Greece II, Artistic Inovation- Semiotics of Its Condition in the New Era, State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki, Greece
  • 2007 Ekserevnitis Gallery, Athens, Greece
  • 2007 Viennafair, Kalfayan Galleries, Vienna
  • 2006 Artissima, Kalfayan Galleries, Turin
  • 2006 arthistory.com, Kalfayan Galleries, Athens, Greece
  • 2006 Anatomy of a Dream, Kalfayan Galleries, Thessaloniki, Greece
  • 2006 Athens Voice: Art On The Front Page II, Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece
  • 2006 About Appetite, Zoumboulakis Gallery, Athens, Greece
  • 2005 Encounters, Kalfayan Galleries, Athens, Greece
  • 2005 Communicating with Humour, Kalfayan Galleries, Thessaloniki, Greece
  • 2005 A Tribute to Antonis Benakis, Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece
  • 2005 Spring show, Earl McGrath Gallery, Los Angeles, USA
  • 2005 The Sacrifice-An Intimate, (catalogue), Museum De Beyerd, Breda, the Netherlands
  • 2005 Athens (Accidental Metropolis?), Mechanisms of Change (curated by Olinka Miliaressi –Phoka)
  • 2005 Bios - Cheap Art, Athens, Greece (catalogue)
  • 2005 Giorgio de Chirico Art Foundation, Volos, Greece
  • 2005 Screwball, Vox  Populi, Philadelphia, USA
  • 2005 Light Waves, Kalfayan Galleries, Athens, Greece
  • 2005 Light (opt), Lightbox- Kim Light Gallery, December, Los Angeles, USA
  • 2003 Grafeio-cratia (catalogue), Ministry of Internal Affairs, Athens, Greece, Works on Paper, Inc., Archimede Staffolini Gallery, Nicosia, Cyprus
  • 2002 Fantasyland, D’Amelio Terras, New York, USA
  • 2001 Amused, Carrie Seacrest Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  • 2000 Bittersweet, Gallery Art and Public, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 2000 Pleasure Treasure: Recent Acquisitions from the Collections of Eileen and Peter Norton, Harriet and Charles Luckman Fine Arts Gallery, California State University, Los Angeles, USA
  • 2000 Benefit Exhibition, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, USA
  • 2000 Not a Theme Show, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, USA
  • 2000 H2O, Works on Paper, Inc., Los Angeles, USA
  • 2000 No Rhyme or..., Postmasters Gallery, New York, USA
  • 1999 Welcome to the Mal-boro World, Galerie Art et Public, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 1999 Asti-otites, Iki-otites, Hellenic American Union, Athens, Greece
  • 1999 Flag Project, Culturgest, Lisbon, Portugal
  • 1996 Donald Baechler, Nancy Rubins and Konstantin Kakanias, Paul Kasmin, New York, USA
  • 1996 Walk on the Soho Side (curated by Marc Pottier), Soho, New York, USA
  • 1996 Lotta Hammer Gallery, London, UK
  • 1996 Macrinitsa ’96, Community of Macrinitsa, Macrinitsa, Greece
  • 1995 Craig Cornelius Gallery, New York, USA (Gramercy Hotel Art Fair)
  • 1995 Craig Cornelius Gallery, New York, USA (San Francisco Art Fair)
  • 1992 Body Parts, Natalie Karg Gallery, New York, USA

 

Bibliography (selection)

  • David Netto, ''Still Life with Chickens'', The Wall Street Journal, October 2011
  • Paridis Christos, "Religion Should Be Like Sex", 10% 2009
  • Konstantin Kakanias, Athinorama, October 2009
  • Art Fag City, "Artists Favor Sarah Palin’s Pussy Over Bill Clinton’s Cock", Art Fag City, November 7, 2008
  • "La foret ou nous pleura's" Introduction for the upcoming catalogue for "Wall Painting", 2008
  • Marinos Christopher, "Konstantin Kakanias", Review, Flash Art International, Jan.-Feb. 2008
  • "Goings on about Town – Common Objects", The New Yorker, Jul. 23, 2007
  • Cooper Nathan, "Konstantin's Empire", C Magazine, Apr. 2006
  • West Kevin, "Unorthodox Greek", W Magazine, Feb. 2006
  • "Cutout figures and motifs create a sculptural ensemble, A fun installation by Konstantin Kakanias at the Museum of Cycladic Art", Kathimerini English Edition, January 3, 2006
  • Maki Saito, "Scoop", Vogue Nippon, Oct. 2004
  • Herrera Carolina, "Il Genio da Carolina", Vogue España, September 2004
  • Schappell Elisa, "Hot Type", Vanity Fair, Aug. 2004
  • Yiannias Vicki, "Go, Tependris", Odyssey, Jul. – Aug. 2004
  • Volandes Stellene, "Olympic Talent", Departures, Jul. - Aug. 2004
  • Medina Marcy, "Carrying The Torch", WWD, June 1 2004
  • Johnson-Papaspyridi Jessica, "The Truth About Mrs. Tependris", Insider, May 2004
  • Koroxenidis Alexandra, "A Cult Figure’s Latest Adventures", Kathimerini English Edition, 5 Apr. 2004
  • Bagley Christopher, "Golden  Boy", WWD, March 2004
  • Birbilis Petros, "Ah Re Kakania", Symbol, Feb. 28 2004
  • Tsepetis Nikos, "A Rock and Roll Family", Symbol, Feb. 21, 2004
  • Lambert Gavin, ''Introduction. Mrs. Tependris … Just Before the Olympic Games in Athens, By Konstantin Kakanias'', Published by the Greek Ministry of Culture, 2004.
  • Panayotaki Stavroula, "Our Cover", Athens Voice, 18-23 Dec. 2003
  • Welsh Marc, "Two’s Company", Elle Décor (American), Oct. 2003
  • Hughes Glyn, "Works on Paper at Archimede Staffolini, Nicosia", The Cyprus Weekly, June 6 – 12, 2003
  • Dawson Jessica, "Exhibit E Offers a Peek at 28 European Artists", Washington Post, June 5, 2003
  • Blain Francoise-Aline "Konstantin Kakanias, Immersion d’Art Vivant", Beaux Arts Magazine, May 2003
  • Jonquet Francois, "Art Victim", Nova Magazin, Mai 2003
  • Phillips Chris, "Konstantin Kakanias", Frontiers Magazine, March 2003
  • Bethenod Martin, "Arret Sur Image", French Vogue, Oct. 2002
  • Bakounakis Nikos, "Les Feuilles Mortes", To Vima journal, Sept. 15, 2002
  • Goodman Jonathan. "Express Yourself!", greekworks.com., August 15, 2002
  • Finkel Jori, "Mrs. Tependris Makes a Splash'',  Art & Auction, June 2002
  • Kimmelman, Michael, "Fantasyland", Review, The New York Times, June 14, 2002
  • "Putting oneself in the picture: the life of the fictional art collector", Kathimerini English Edition, May 20 2002
  • Lieberman Ellen, "A Hostess Who Finds Chairs Delicious", The New York Times May 5, 2002
  • Rus, Mayer, "Time to Dance", House & Garden, May 2002
  • Bendinger Jessica "Speak Memory", Elle Décor (American), Apr. 2002
  • Israel Nico, "Skinny Dipping", Vogue Apr, 2002
  • Young Paul, "Absolutely Tependris", Angeleno, March 2002
  • Bowles Hamish, Introduction, ''Mrs. Tependris: The Contemporary Years'',  by Konstantin Kakanias, Rizzoli, 2002
  • Gaines Malik, "Konstantin Kakanias", Art and Text, Feb, 2001
  • Laird Tessa, "Konstantin Kakanias : Her Hollywood Years, Part 1. Works On Paper Inc, Los Angeles",
  • Art on Paper, Jan. - Feb. 2001
  • "The Terrible Trials of Mrs. Tependris", artnet.com, September 7, 2000
  • Drohojowska-Philp, Hunter, "Meet the Artist’s Very Good, Er, Friend", Calendar, Los Angeles, Times Sept. 3, 2000
  • Winn Alice, "Not a Theme Park: In Search of Meaningful Art", Pittsburgh City Paper, March 29 - Apr. 5, 2000
  • Shearing Graham, "No Theme, but Plenty of Content", Pittsburgh Tribune Review, March 17-23, 2000
  • Thomas Mary, "Not a Theme Show", Hot Ticket, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Feb. 27, 2000
  • Madden Dave, "An Unthemely Display: Is Anything Underlying the Collection Currently on the PCA’s Walls", Review, Pittsburgh Weekly, Feb. 23-March 1, 2000
  • Mervis Scott, "Just Plain Art", Weekend Hot List, Pittsburgh Weekend Magazine, Feb.18, 2000
  • Adams,  Brooke, "Konstantin Kakanias", Review, Art in America, Jan. 2000
  • Ceria Melissa, "Portraits of a Lady", W,  Nov. 1999
  • "Shortlist, Art Choices", The Village Voice, Nov. 2, 1999.
  • Jablonsky Linda, "Konstantin Kakanias", Review, Time Out, New York, Nov. 11-18, 1999
  • Davis Peter, ''Sarah Palin’s XXX Life",  papermag.com
  • "The Whirl History", The New Yorker, Apr. 28 - May 5, 1997
  • Angelidakis Andreas, "Konstantin Kakanias, Galerie Rebecca Camhi", Blocnotes, April - May 1996
  • Sevastopoulou Stella, "Konstantin Kakanias, Toddler, Astray", The Art Magazine, March-Apr. 1996
  • Denton Monroe, "Konstantin Kakanias", Arti, Winter 1995
  • Linfield Susie, "ELLE DÉCOR Takes on the Small Space", Elle Décor, Aug./Sept.1995
  • Rimanelli David, "Ars Immaculata", Goings On About Town, The New Yorker, May 22, 1995
  • Papadopoulos Helena, "Konstantin Kakanias, What do the Trees of the Dark Forest Hide?", The Art Magazine, Oct. 1994
  • "Goings on about Town – Konstantin Kakanias", The New Yorker, Jul. 11, 1994
  • Levin Kim, "Konstantin Kakanias, Art in Brief”, The Village Voice, Jul. 5, 1994
  • Rosas Carlos, "Konstantin’s Empire", Vanity Fair, Apr. 1992
  • Slesin Suzanne, "Style Makers; Konstantine Kakanias, Illustrator", The New York Times Dec. 17, 1989
  • Dorleans, Francis, "Konstantin Kakanias – a Grec Typiquement Parisien, a New York", French Vogue, Oct. 1989
  • Shields Jody, “View - Konstantin Kakanias”, Vogue Sept.1989

 

Publications

  • Untitled III - Konstantin Kakanias (Artist’s Book, limited edition, numbered and signed by the artist), printed by Lithoart Art New (Turin), published by Kalfayan Galleries, 2008.
  • Darling, take Fountain (exhibition catalogue, curated by Konstantin Kakanias), Kalfayan Galleries, Athens, 1 June - 29 September 2007.
  • Kakanias Konstantin, Mrs Tependris…just before the Olympic Games in Athens, Gribaudo Paola (coordination), General Secretariat for the Olympic Games of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Athens, 2004.
  • Kakanias Konstantin, Mrs Tependris: the Contemporary Years, Rizzoli, 2002.
  • Kakanias Konstantin, Freedom or Death, Jane Stubbs, New York, 1997.

 

Still Life with Chickens

What was one of the most contentiously fought-over objects in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's history? A treasure bought for a scandalous price and whose original owners demanded its return for over three decades before finally succeeding? Not a painting, not a sculpture—but the Sarpedon vase, a masterpiece of the Greek artist Euphronios. A work of painted ceramic.

If you are an artist as sophisticated as Konstantin Kakanias, you know that 200 years ago porcelain was considered an art form easily comparable in importance to painting or tapestry weaving (not to mention 2,000 years ago, when vase painting was basically the only game in town). So when the Greek-born artist was asked by several friends and patrons to create sets of painted ceramic plates 14 years ago, Kakanias seized the opportunity to revive this ancient art form.

Kakanias, a multimedia artist, lives in Los Angeles and Greece and is best known for his whimsical cartoonlike drawings and watercolors based on the lives of fictional characters. One of these, a posh Greek widow named Mrs. Tependris, serves as a kind of alter ego inspired by various European aristocrats and 1960s Italian film stars. The couture-wearing, art-collecting Mrs. Tependris engages in a series of madcap adventures across the globe.

For one of his first dinnerware collections for his close friend Christian Louboutin, Kakanias painted scenes from the designer's own fabulous life—his shoes, his houseboat in Egypt,

the mobile-disco-cum-shoe-boutique that Louboutin occasionally pilots through the Riviera. The playful subject matter is typically bordered with classical motifs like a Greek key or an anthemion pattern. Kakanias tops it all off with his clever, often ironic captions.

"I thought they would be too dainty to eat from," says Louboutin. "That I needed them—you know—for decorative reasons first. Well, it ends up that I cannot eat off of other plates now. I need them like a junkie, and like I do with my favorite shoes—getting always two pairs—I had to order another set." Kakanias likes that his plates are both objects of art and objects of everyday use.

For other friends, like the Los Angeles decorator Peter Dunham, Kakanias has riffed on inspiration as diverse as John Waters's film "Pink Flamingos," 18th-century French neoclassical architecture and even Egyptian hieroglyphics. (The artist studied in Luxor for a year.)

Chickens were the theme for a recent commission by a collector  who raises exotic breeds on his Connecticut farm. As a gift for his partner's 55th birthday, the collector ordered an equal number of plates. Kakanias took his inspiration from the term "poule de luxe" (rough translation: chicken cocooned in luxury), which, in certain European circles, is used to describe a sort of kept woman, not unlike the one played by Silvana Mangano in Conversation Piece," a film by Visconti and a favorite of the artist. The Duchess of Devonshire and her regal chickens served as another source of inspiration, among others.

With some preliminary sketches in hand, Kakanias headed to Paros, Greece, where he has been making the dishes since 1997. This may not be the most convenient place for his production, but certainly it's the most romantic, according to Kakanias. "The only way on or off Paros requires several boat rides, and sometimes even donkey rides," he explains. It is here that he will spend the next couple of months collaborating with his friend Monique Mailloux, an American expatriate who runs the local ceramics studio.

After the plates are thrown and baked once, Kakanias sits with the bare earthenware dish between his hands, not unlike his predecessor Euphronios. While classical vase painters used something like a pastry bag, Kakanias paints on the plate directly. Like a jeweler, he uses a loupe to achieve the ornate detailing along the borders. This is extremely refined stuff, as carefully painted as Sèvres but intentionally free-form in character.

Sometimes Kakanias lets an image sit for a while before adding his witty words— deciding on how best to label this merry band of aristochickens. "Which bird looks like a count? An archduchess? It takes some time to know," he explains. "They all have a place and a position,  and if you miscast them, they can be very cross." So he bestows the fanciful creatures with  titles like "Her Divinity," "Miss Sublimity" and the "Duchess of Vulgaria." After the painting is complete, the plates are baked again in the oven for a day and a half. (The larger dishes can cause much heartbreak as they inspire some of the more elaborate images but often crack during the firing process.)

Today the chicken plates are lovingly showcased in a display case—specifically designed for them by the owner —in the dining room. Though this might be the most grand commission, it is not his biggest one. Kakanias has made up to 300 dishes for one set, but he is adamant that he will not be transitioning into any kind of standardized production. "I refuse to put them in stores, because I want them to be accepted —and regarded— as only art," says Kakanias, mercurial and generous all at once. "But they are also absolutely meant to be used."

David Netto
* WSJ Magazine, October 11th, 2011

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