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Masterworks by internationally acclaimed sculptor offered at Bonhams Greek sale
Yerassimos Sklavos, Evolution, 1962. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- The international auction house, Bonhams is to offer two masterworks by the acclaimed sculptor Yerassimos Sklavos at its next Greek Art sale in London on 16 November. Evolution (1962) and Volcano (1964-65) are both estimated at £40,000-60,000.

These masterpieces are two of the finest pieces from the artist’s estate. Volcano’s purity of sculptural lines and endless interplay of light and shadow echo the fluted columns of ancient Greek temples. Sklavos said of the piece: “Look at my Volcan; it’s made of Egyptian granite, the hardest stone on earth. No one could ever carve it, no matter how much they tried. But I sculpted it, I shaped it, I gave it the form I wanted.” Professor V. Fiorovantes, who wrote the artist’s monograph, considers Volcan one of Sklavos’s top 15 works of “exceptional value”.

Évolution’s immediacy of form and minimalism of expression make it a modern-day caryatid. Fine examples of Sklavos’s inspired taille directe, (i.e. sculpting the material directly without preparatory sketches) both works breathe life into the rigid matter, revealing the supremacy of instinct and the true power of spiritual light.

Sklavos was born in Kefalonia in 1927 and died at the age of 40 in 1967 when he was crushed in his Paris studio by the large granite sculpture on which he was working. During his short career, Sklavos established a global reputation and his monumental sculptures can be found in countries such as Canada (Montreal), France (Paris, Centra Pompidou) and Greece (Delphi). After studying sculpture at the Athens School of Fine Art, Sklavos won a scholarship to the École des Beaux Arts in Paris and later attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Montparnasse where he studied under Ossip Zadkine.

In 1960, Sklavos patented a technique of cutting stone using an oxy-acetylene flame and he never ceased to experiment with different ways of handling his material. Former French President Jacques Chirac praised the supremacy of instinct in Skalvos’s work and the late French art critic and journalist Raymond Cogniat wrote, “Sklavos’s works are dream traps because they’re openings to a mystic world. …He made matter submit to the reflections of his imagination.”

In 1961 he held his first solo exhibition becoming an overnight international sensation and in the same year was awarded the Grand Prix de Sculpture and the Young Artist’s Award at the second Biennial for Young Artists in Paris. During his short life Sklavos was compared to Giacometti in his importance to sculpture. These two works Volcano and Evolution are perfect examples of his ability to imbue his material with life and spirit.

An artist of international renown, considered in 1966 by Christian Zervos to be “the greatest living sculptor after Giacometti’s death” and named “Maître de l’École de Paris” by French President Jacques Chirac, Sklavos evokes archetypal symbols imbued with everlasting value.

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