Events — Book launch
Takis Book Launch & Discussion
Thursday 26 Oct 2023
Please join us for the book launch of Takis (2023), a new monograph published by White Cube on the Greek artist Panayiotis Vassilakis (1925–2019), also known as Takis. A leading figure in the kinetic and sound art movements, Takis incorporated invisible forces as a fourth dimension in his sculptures, paintings and sound works. Frequently employing electromechanical devices salvaged from military surplus stores, the artist explored new technologies in his practice, taking art into domains previously relegated to experimental physics.
The volume’s eponymous title ties to Takis’ solo exhibitions at White Cube Bermondsey (2021) and White Cube Hong Kong (2020–21), which were organised in close collaboration with the artist’s foundation and research centre. Illustrating many of the works in both shows, as well as the artist’s ambitious public commissions, the monograph presents the celebrated series through which Takis embraced both art and science.
An essay by Toby Kamps considers the personal experiences and challenges that motivated the artist into highlighting the unseen powers that animate all of creation. Additionally, curator Pavel Pyś explores the cross-disciplinary exchanges that informed the artist’s investigation into the agency of the instrument and the spaces shared by humans and machines.
The launch of this monograph is accompanied by a conversation between Toby Kamps, Director of External Projects at White Cube, and Kostas Stasinopoulos, Curator, Live Programmes at Serpentine Galleries, London, who will discuss Takis’ exploration of emerging technologies and the lasting influence of the artist’s practice.
Takis was an autodidact and self-professed ‘instinctive scholar’, but his accomplishments led to an invitation to serve as a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1968. He drew on technological discoveries, ancient philosophy and Zen Buddhism to develop unique and oftentimes mystical forms embodying time, space and energy.
Active in Paris, London, New York and his native Greece, Takis met the Beat poets, The Beatles, and Marcel Duchamp, the latter of whom dubbed him ‘the ploughman of magnetic fields and signalman on soft railroads’. During his career Takis channelled aspects of his research into social spheres, regarding his discoveries as forces for peace and healing. In 1960, he launched his own version of the Cold War space race, using magnets to suspend the poet Sinclair Beiles mid-air, the climax of a public event at which the poet read Takis’ anti-war ‘Magnetic Manifesto’, ahead of Yuri Gagarin’s historic flight a year later. Also in 1969, he co-founded the Art Workers Coalition in New York, pushing for more artists’ rights and diversity in museums. Until his death, the artist headed the Takis K.E.T.E., founded in 1986, a research centre for the arts and sciences in Athens that advanced his research and its practical applications for improving the quality and length of life. He also practiced Solar Yoga, a form of his own invention focused on drawing energy from the sun.
Since the 1960s, Takis has participated in numerous international exhibitions, including Documenta in Kassel, Germany (1977 and 2017); the Venice Biennale (1995); and the Paris Biennale, where he was awarded first prize 1985. More recently, his work was featured in important solo exhibitions at Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre (SNFCC), Kallithea, Greece (2021), MACBA Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2019), Tate Modern, London (2019), Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2015) and the Menil Collection, Houston (2015).
Among the museums holding his works are the Centre Pompidou, Paris; MoMA and Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Menil Collection, Houston; Tate, London; and Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice. In 1987 Takis completed Foret Lumineuse (Luminous Forest), a multi-part installation of ‘Signals’ in the Esplalanade de La Défense, Paris and the city’s biggest public art commission.
The Hellenic Centre
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