Silkscreen on Arches paper, Hand signed and Numbered in Pencil. Serigraph in yellow, red, silver
Chryssa Vardea-Mavromichali (Greek: Χρύσα Βαρδέα-Μαυρομιχάλη; December 31, 1933 – December 23, 2013) was a Greek American artist who worked in a wide variety of media. An American art pioneer in light art and luminist sculpture widely known for her neon, steel, aluminum and acrylic glass installations, she has always used the mononym Chryssa professionally. She worked from the mid-1950s in New York City studios and worked since 1992 in the studio she established in Neos Kosmos, Athens, Greece.
Chryssa was born in Athens into the famous Mavromichalis family from the Mani Peninsula. one of her sisters, who studied medicine, was a friend of the poet and novelist Nikos Kazantzakis.
Chryssa began painting during her teenage years and also studied to be a social worker.In 1953, on the advice of a Greek art critic, her family sent her to Paris to study at the Académie de la Grande Chaumiere where Andre Breton, Edgard Varese, and Max Ernst were among her associates and Alberto Giacometti was a visiting professor.
In 1954, at age twenty-one, Chryssa sailed for the United States, arrived in New York and went to San Francisco, California to study at the California School of Fine Arts. Returning to New York in 1955, she became a United States citizen and established a studio in the city.
Chryssa's first major work was The Cycladic Books preceded American minimalism by seventeen years.
1961, Chryssa's first solo exhibition was mounted at The Guggenheim.
1963, Chryssa's work was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in curator Dorothy Canning Miller's Americans 1963 exhibition. The artists represented in the show also included Richard Anuszkiewicz, Lee Bontecou, Robert Indiana, Richard Lindner, Marisol, Claes Oldenburg, Ad Reinhardt, James Rosenquist and others.
1966, The Gates to Times Square, regarded as "one of the most important American sculptures of all time" and "a thrilling homage to the living American culture of advertising and mass communications." The work is a 10 ft cube installation of two huge letter 'A's through which visitors may walk into "a gleaming block of stainless steel and Plexiglas that seems to quiver in the play of pale blue neon light" which is controlled by programmed timers. First shown in Manhattan's Pace Gallery, it was given to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York in 1972.
1972, The Whitney Museum of American Art mounted a solo exhibition of works by Chryssa.
That's All (early 1970s), the central panel of a triptych related to The Gates of Times Square, was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art between 1975 and 1979.
1973, Chryssa's solo exhibition at the Gallerie Denise René was reviewed for TIME magazine by art critic Robert Hughes before it went on to the Galleries Denise René in Düsseldorf and Paris.
Other works by Chryssa in composite honeycomb aluminum and neon in the 1980s and 1990s include Chinatown, Siren, Urban Traffic, and Flapping Birds.
Chryssa 60/90 retrospective exhibition in Athens in the Mihalarias Art Center. After her long absence from Greece, a major exhibition including large aluminum sculptures - cityscapes, "neon boxes" from the Gates to the Times Square, paintings, drawings etc. was held in Athens.
In 1992, after closing her SoHo studio, which art dealer Leo Castelli had described as "one of the loveliest in the world," Chryssa returned to Greece. She found a derelict cinema which had become a storeroom stacked with abandoned school desks and chairs, behind the old Fix Brewery near the city center in Neos Kosmos, Athens. Using the desks to construct enormous benches, she converted the space into a studio for working on designs and aluminum composite honeycomb sculptures. The Athens National Museum of Contemporary Art, which was founded in 2000 and owns Chryssa's Cycladic Books, is in the process of converting the Fix Brewery into its permanent premises.
Greek Exhibits, European Cultural Center of Delphi (Council of Europe). "Apollo's Heritage"(July 4, 2003 – July 30, 2003). Works by sixteen artists: Giorgio de Chirico, Salvador Dalí, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas, Nikos Engonopoulos, Yannis Tsarouchis, Giorgos Sikeliotis, Takis, Arman, Fernando Botero, Chryssa, Dimitris Mytaras, Alekos Fassianos, Sarantis Karavouzis, Yiannis Psychopedis, Dimitris Sakellion, Georgios Xenos.
European Cultural Center of Delphi (Council of Europe). "Columns and Pillars" (July 1, 2005 – July 23, 2005). Works by Yannis Moralis, Costas Tsoclis, Alekos Fassianos, Sotiris Sorogas, Pavlos, Yiannis Psychopedis, Dimitris Mytaras, Opy Zouni, Novello Finotti, Stephan Antonakos, Chryssa, Günther Uecker, and others.
1961: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1965: Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia
1968: Harvard University
1972: Whitney Museum of American Art
1979: Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
1961: Le Nouveau Réalisme à Paris et à New York, Galerie Rive Droite, Paris, June 1961
1963: Museum of Modern Art
1977: Documenta '77 in Kassel
1991: Princeton University Art Museum
1997: Leo Castelli Gallery
2000, 2003 & 2005: European Cultural Center of Delphi
2007: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Boca Raton Museum of Art
Corcoran Gallery of Art
Empire State Plaza
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki
Museum of Modern Art
National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens
Walker Art Center
Whitney Museum of American Art