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Stephen Antonakos (1926-2013)

(August 2013) posted on Thu Aug 22, 2013

Greek native was a pioneer in neon artistry


By Wade Swormstedt

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Stephen Antonakos, a pioneer in neon art, died in New York City on August 19. He was 87. The Greek native's 1993 piece, "Neon for Stadtsparkasse, Cologne, Germany," appeared on the cover of Christiann Schiess' 1994 book entitled, "The Light Artist Anthology," which was the first book to broadly capture the realm of neon art. Schiess had interviewed Antonakos for the February 1987 issue of Signs of the Times magazine.

Antonakos, whose family immigrated to the U.S. (New York City) in 1930, first began experimenting with neon in the 1950s. Perhaps his earliest piece to appear in print was from 1962, entitled "White Light." Antonakos didn't physically bend the neon for his creations: "I don't involve myelf with some of the other technicalities because, I decided years ago to limit myself to the aesthetics of neon,"  he said in his interview with Schiess. 

Antonakos has permanent installations in Japan, Greece, Germany, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston, as well as New York. Overall, he had more than 100 one-person shows and participated in more than 250 group shows. Much of his work was also publicly funded outdoor creations, such as "The Room" in Grand Rapids, MI (1973) , "Incomplete Neon Square" in West Germany (1977) and "Neon for 42nd St. in New York (1979).

Much more can be seen at his official website, http://www.stephenantonakos.com/.


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