Born In: São Paulo, Brazil
Constantine Andreou was a noted Greek painter and sculptor considered as a prominent figure in international art of the 20th century. His expansive and highly successful career that spanned for over six decades was marked with significant contributions made towards the artistic community of Europe, particularly France. His artwork received first major exposure due to publicity after judges of the Panellinio competition rejected his three lifelike sculptures accusing him of copying nature while on the other hand imminent Greek personalities namely, Memos Makris, John Miliades, and Nikos Nikolaou, defended him. He remained an active member of the Greek Resistance when Greece was under Nazi and Italian occupation during Second World War. Andreou however continued his artwork and studies during the war years and occupation and went to France after winning a French scholarship. He came up with a new personal technique in which he used welded copper sheets and thrived in developing a unique and unconventional way to express his creation. With time Andreou rose to prominence in the French art scene with works like Globe- Trinite and was compared with the likes of Picasso, Mondrian and Gastaud. He received several accolades for his significant contribution to the world of arts including the Croix de Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur.
Also Known As: Costas Andreou, Kostas Andreou
Died At Age: 90
Born Country: Brazil
place of death: Athens, Greece
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Constantine Andreou was born on March 24, 1917, in São Paulo, Brazil, to Greek parents who came to Brazil and settled there a few years before Andreou’s birth. His family later returned to Greece in 1925. There he lived in Athens till the end of the Second World War.
While in Athens, he studied technical design and engaged himself in practicing crafts. He also worked as a carpenter for some time and made furniture. He completed his graduation in 1935 and went on to study sculpture, the art form that he eventually mastered and was widely known for.
Andreou took part in several national competitions and in 1939 he participated at the Panellinio where his three lifelike sculptures were disqualified by the judges. Andreou again took part in the competition with the same three sculptures in 1942 but was accused of cheating by imitating nature. This time however Memos Makris, John Miliades, and Nikos Nikolaou, three imminent Greek personalities of that time, came to his defense which resulted in a sudden widespread enthusiasm for Andreou’s work. The publicity garnered Andreou and his work a major exposure giving him his first taste of fame.
In 1940, during the Second World War, Greece joined the Allies and Italy joined the Axis Powers. Same year Andreou was drafted into the Hellenic Army. By the following year Greece came under Nazi and Italian occupation and during such occupation Andreou played an active role as a member of the Greek Resistance. He also continued his artwork and studies during this time. He won a French scholarship in 1945 and went to France on the RMS Mataroa voyage with other Greek intellectuals. He remained in France for the next fifty-seven years.
Andreou started using a new personal method in 1947, making use of welded copper sheets, and succeeded in developing a unique and unconventional way to express his creation. Swiss-French architect, designer, painter, urban planner and writer Le Corbusier, considered a pioneer of modern architecture, was a friend of Andreou and an inspiration for the latter in his efforts to construct new methods of expression and in development of his personal language. Andreou met Le Corbusier for the first time in 1947 and thereafter worked on and off with the latter till 1953. During such time Andreou also became part of a select group of philosophers which included personalities like Jean-Paul Sartre, a prominent figure in the philosophy of Existentialism. The group discussed different topics in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, an administrative quarter of the 6th arrondissement of Paris. Sartre also praised Andreou in his French journal Les Temps Modernes.
Andreou displayed the transformation of his style during his first exhibition that was held in Paris in 1951. He was tagged as "the most famous Greek sculptor in the capital with a rich, varied and successful work" during the Seven Greek Sculptors group exhibition. With time Andreou rose to prominence and garnered widespread acclaim in the French art scene and was compared with the likes of Mondrian, Picasso and Gastaud. He was made the chairman of the Paris Autumn Salon for sculpture in 1982.
While in France Andreou resided in a commune called La Ville-du-Bois located in the southern suburbs of Paris. The library of the town was named in his honour in 1999. During his stay in France, Andreou often travelled to Greece to meet his friends and family and also displayed his work in different cities and islands there.
Meanwhile Nikos Nikolaou, a long-time friend and colleague of Andreou convinced him to buy a house on the island of Aegina. This led Andreou to buy an age-old winery on the island in 1977 and convert it into a house. During the summer of 1985 Andreou collaborated with poet Evangelos Andreou and created a series of 20 paintings titled Polymorphs which were based on the work of Evangelos called Restoration of a Stone Stalk.
Andreou also took part in the Biennale de Paris, the Venice Biennale as well as in the Biennales of the Netherlands, Antwerp and Yugoslavia.
In 2002, Andreou returned to Athens, Greece. He wanted to promote his art work as well as the importance of painting and sculpture across the globe and in such pursuit he established the Costas Andreou Foundation in 2004. The foundation, presently chaired by his brother Arys Andreou, has an international judging committee which recognises and awards young and upcoming artists every three years. The first award was given by the foundation in March 2008.
Andreou received several awards and recognitions for his work including Gran Prix d'Antoine Pevsner in 1998, Croix de Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur in 2000 and Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2005.
Andreou died in his house in Athens, Greece, on October 8, 2007, at the age of 90.
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