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Philolaos Tloupas: A Greek Sculptor and His Legacy

Greece celebrates 100 years from the birth of sculptor Philolaos Tloupas.

Born in 1923, exactly 100 years ago, the P Gallery|Sculpture gallery is tributing the work of Philolaos by exhibiting “maquettes” of his monumental sculptures as well as certain smaller pieces here in Kolonaki square. These maquettes are works of art in their own right and this is the first time that they are being exhibited in Greece.

Philolaos was a remarkably talented young man who was invited to join the Athens School of Fine Arts in 1947. He was noticed and his skills were admired by the great Greek sculptor, Apartis (who was interestingly, the French sculptor Bourdelle’s favorite.) Philolaos showed such promise that his talents propelled him into establishing himself in France as a well-recognized sculptor. He produced an astounding amount of monumentally sized sculptures for public spaces all over France mainly in stainless steel and cement. Notably, in the 1970’s Philolaos constructed a very imposing sculpture at La Defense in Paris which is still there today. This was a milestone moment in his career however he has many pieces all over France installed in public spaces. His work exudes dynamic shapes with a sense of movement combined with brut solidity.

He married twice, once to Simone Walter in 1957 with whom he had a daughter named Isabelle. Some years later, he met Marina Assael with whom he had a son named Yorgos in 1974. They settled outside of Paris in Chevreuse where he began a series of fascinating sculptures as well as furniture that in essence were works of art themselves. His art extended into his living space and large atelier where he created dozens of objects such as fruit bowls, chairs, and one of my favorites – a standing sculpture that is a bronze chest to store jewelry in. He even made jewelry and some pieces that were wearable, such as a silver belt that is on display here in the gallery. Visitors to the art gallery may also revel in discovering a creative line of dresses (and even shoes) which incorporate these designs by Philolaos as well as other very well-known artists, into patterns on the clothes and shoes. Everything is made using the finest silks and leathers to result in a form of wearable art.

Philolaos is an important example of an artist who integrated his sculptures into urban environments. In 1959 he created two massive water reservoir sculptures at the Châteaux d’eau de Valence that consisted of a pair of towers. One tower was 52 meters high and the second was 57 meters high. He was producing about one such large project per year from 1967-1983. In 1984 he won the prestigious Medal of Fine Arts from the French Academy of Architecture for what was deemed the best public art project of the decade. In 2005 he had the great honor of an exhibition at the Palais Royal in Paris. In tribute to his work, Greece placed one of his sculptures in Syntagma square during the 2004 Olympic Games.

His work is solid and imposing but always with a touch of whimsical. Across decades he created massively scaled sculptures which the public continues to admire, making him indisputably a Greek artist we need to learn more about.

—Joanna Padopoulos Averoff

Directed by Michael Gaughn

Michael Gaughn has created commercials, promotional videos, and short documentaries for such clients as Kaleidescape, AcousticSmart, Finger Lakes wineries, and the Niagara Wine Trail. He has done in-depth interviews with directors, actors, and musicians, including Barry Sonnenfeld, Pete Farrelly, Oliver Stone, John Lasseter, Liev Schreiber & Naomi Watts, Liam Neeson & Natasha Richardson, David Bowie, Randy Newman, Chris Cornell, XTC, The Beastie Boys, and Phish. And he has served as a series producer for HGTV/DIY, ESPN, and the Mojo Network, among other outlets.

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