In his Greek homeland, Vlassis Caniaris (b. 1928 in Athens, d. 2011 in Athens) ranks among the best-known artists of his generation. He adopted a critical position on political and social issues in his work throughout his career.

While living in Rome (1956-1960), Caniaris’ practice still focused on two-dimensional images, drawing inspiration from the works of Giorgio de Chirico and symbolic realism. His turn towards the abstract dates to his time in Paris (1960-1967 and 1969-1973), when he was also seeking to dissolve the surface of his works and opened his practice to three-dimensionality and assemblage.


The political situation in Greece and his experiences in Berlin with a DAAD grant (1973-1975) heightened his interest in the aesthetics of sculpture and contributed to the growing socio-political dimension of his works. During this time there was a growing global crisis concerning the numbers of migrant workers in Europe when after the 1973 oil crisis, the same countries that invited workers from southern European countries began to close their borders in an attempt to protect their own citizens. Around this time Caniaris began to focus on matters of national identity, social inequality and migration and produced during this period his most significant body of works. Using indigenous elements and found household objects such as used clothing and toys as materials, he gradually initiated to create a human form; a physical proposition: the person-object, which was not only a political or social subject but an ontological, existential figure. The figure of loneliness or marginality expressed through aesthetic means. Caniaris has been influencing a number of artists ever since.


Vlassis Caniaris’ visual language is distinctive and surprising for its period, leading to invitations to show his work at the Venice Biennale (1964 and 1988) and documenta 6 (1977). Relevant solo exhibitions include the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1970), Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1972), ICA Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (1976). Recent exhibitions include "Atopolis“, Mons, (2015, cur. Dirk Snauwaert); Gwangju Biennale (2014, cur. Jessica Morgan); Venice Biennale (2013, cur. Massimiliano Gioni); Henry Moore Institute, Leeds (2012) and Thessaloniki Biennale (2011); as well as major solo shows at the GAK - Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst Bremen, Germany (2013) and the Benaki Museum, Athens (2009). In 2017 his works were part of the documenta 14 in Kassel (cur. Adam Szymczyk).

Selected works
Selected exhibitions

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