Scope and Contents
The papers of American sculptor Stephen Antonakos measure 24.2 linear feet and 1.73 GB and date from 1932-2014, with the bulk of the material dating from 1960-2014. The collection documents Antonakos's pioneering work in neon, through biographical material, correspondence, writings and notes, project files, exhibition files, printed and digital material, and photographs.
Biographical material comprises biographical statements and resumes, transcripts of 5 interviews, copies of obituaries, and other records relating to Antonakos's memorial service in 2013.
Correspondence is primarily professional, with scattered personal correspondence, and provides suppemental documentation of all aspects of the artist's career, including gifts, sales, loans, and consignments to galleries and museums such as Fischbach Gallery; John Weber Gallery; Lori Bookstein Fine Art; Galleria Bonomo, Bari; Art Front Gallery, Tokyo; Galerie Bonnier, Stockholm; Galerie Bernier, Athens; Kalfayan Gallery, Athens; Galerie Citronne, Poros; Konrad Fischer Gallery, Berlin; Daniel Marzona Gallery, Berlin; The American Academy of Arts and Letters; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Museum of Modern Art; the Onassis Cultural Center; the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University; the Smith College Museum of Art; the Dallas Museum of Art; the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens; the State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki; and the Benaki Museum, Piraeus.
Writings and notes provide artist statements on all aspects of Antonakos's work, as well as teaching notes from the 1960s.
Project files are a rich source of information on Antonakos's work in neon, particularly for the large-scale permanent Public Works including Hampshire College, Amherst; the Tacoma Dome; Pershing Square, Los Angeles; the Atlanta Hartsfied Airport; the 59th Street Transfer Station, New York City; Faret Tachikawa, Japan; the Stadtsparkasse, Cologne; the Reading Power Plant, Tel Aviv; the San Antonio Public Library; the University of Dijon; the Attiko Metro, Athens; the Mitchell International Airport, Milwaukee; and the Airport of Puglia, Bari. All aspects of the artist's work, from conception on paper through execution and reception by the public, are documented here in correspondence, artist statements and proposals, contracts, insurance records, original drawings, plans and blueprints, printed and digital material, and photographs. Ideas and proposals for projects not executed are also documented in this series, and comprise the same types of material.
Antonakos's conceptual Packages are documented in lists, letters of transmittal, and photographs. The series also holds the contents of a Package given to the Archives of American Art in 1975 and opened, as requested, after his death: a 35mm microfilm of a sketchbook kept by Antonakos from 1974-1975, with sketches and notes about his neon projects.
Antonakos's artistic development can be traced chronologically in the exhibition files from some of his earliest work with neon in combination with found objects, to the use of neon alone. Exhibition files document the artist's progression from placing neon on a base or wall and at the corners and ceilings of rooms, to placing tubes at the edges of panels in order to generate a colored glow around them; furthermore, they document the evolution from his early boxes, contained spaces, and indoor and outdoor rooms, to his meditation spaces and chapels. Also in evidence in this series is the artist's prolific output of drawings, which were shown in numerous exhibitions. Exhibition files include documentation from circa 100 solo shows and from his over 250 group shows, at venues including Allentown Art Museum, the Benaki Museum, The Drawing Room, Galleriaforma, Genoa, Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center, Athens, John Weber Gallery, La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, Lori Bookstein Fine Art, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, Rose Art Museum, and the Savannah College of Art and Design. Many of the files include Antonakos's original drawings and plans.
Printed material comprises announcements and catalogs for Antonakos's solo and group exhibitions, posters of the same, press and publicity clippings, and 10 publications about or including Antonakos and his work.
There are 7 photographs of Antonakos, including portraits by George Kokkinos and photos with others including Sebastian Adler, the artist's daughter Evangelina Mary Spector Antonakos, Naomi Spector Antonakos, Ronald Bladen, and Richard Koshalek. Also found are photos of artwork by category, and digital photographs of sample images.
The collection includes 1 reel of microfilm (35mm).
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated in 1975 and 1981 by Stephen Antonakos, and in 2014 by Naomi Spector Antonakos.
Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Stephen Antonakos dated 1975, May 9.
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Stephanie Ashley in 2016. Born-digital materials were processed by Kirsi Ritosalmi-Kisner in 2019 with funding provided by Smithsonian Collection Care and Preservation Fund.