TAKIS (1925-2019), Signal - 1986, welded iron, 150 cm
Monogram on the base - With certificate by the artist
What touches me about the oeuvre of Takis is the intriguing contrast between the industrial waste material - brutal and in itself without any recognizable aesthetic quality - and the elegant, fragile-looking sculptures from which they are made. In his "signature pieces," the signals, he places found elements - parts of electrical appliances or iron slag - on fine metal stems, which, as if by magic, acquire an elegance that contrasts sharply with the original material. The slightest disturbance of the work makes the stems move like waving cornstalks. The contrast between material and work of art can hardly be greater, and it is precisely in this contrast that the universal poetry of Takis' works emerges.
The self-taught sculptor Panayotis Vassilakis, known as Takis, is one of the leading personalities of kinetic art. In his long career, three important series stand out: Signals, Musical Sculptures, and Telemagnetic and Hydromagnetic Sculptures.
In 1954, Takis moved to Paris and embarked on an international career, while remaining very attached to his hometown, Athens. In 1955, while in Paris, he adopted iron as his preferred material and created his first Signals, inspired by the invention of the radar and the technological landscape of the Calais train station. Like electric antennas, these Signals, which capture ambient energy, quickly acquired a kinetic character and were presented at the first International Exhibition of Plastic Arts at the Musée d'art moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1956. The Signals constitute one of the major themes of the sculptor, which can be found throughout his career, but each copy remains unique and singular in its own right.
In 1988, Takis was awarded the Grand Prix National de Sculpture in Paris, where the greatest museums have dedicated retrospectives to him since the 1970s, including the Centre National d'Art Moderne et Contemporain, the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, and the Palais de Tokyo in 2015. In a twist of fate, Takis passed away on August 9, 2019, while the Tate Modern in London was devoting a major retrospective to him, recognizing his major role in the history of 20th-century European sculpture.