(Vasilis) Takis was born in 1925, in Athens. He spent his childhood under the dictatorial regime of Ioannis Metaxas in a country that was soon to be occupied by the German army. In the early 1940s, Takis joined the Greek resistance and was imprisoned for six months as a member of the youth organization EPON. Takis’ focus on sculpture emerged from his intense interest in the sculptures of Giacometti and Picasso. Together with Minos Argyrakis, he moved to a small studio in Anakassa in 1952 and created first works in plaster (Quatre Soldats). In 1954, he left Greece and moved to Paris where he started to do iron sculptures (Sphinx and Eidolon).
Soon, Takis became part of a movement focusing on kinetic art and joined the circle of artists forming around the Paris Galerie Iris Clert. In Paris, Takis developed his »Signaux« or signal objects (Signal tétard, 1955) that were attached to long, fragile-looking metal rods. Soon, he developed the »Signaux« also as kinetic objects; they were exhibited in 1956 at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. With his Signaux Feux d’Artifice, Takis took a further step. Starting in 1957, he presented his objects in the streets of Paris as part of artistic Actions. Yet he kept demonstrating his interest in traditional materials of sculpture, for example, with his bronze works entitled »Espaces Intérieurs.« Space and movement were explored in the Télésculptures where Takis studied magnetic effects in his sculptures, objects, and in painting – the »Murs Magnétiques« (Long Magnetic Wall (McNamara Line), 1968) and »Télépeintures.« Through the exhibitions at the Galerei Clert, Takis’ art of magnetic fields was soon internationally recognized.
Next to the kinetic objects, Takis’ Performances which he staged together with various artists, musicians, and poets carried significant weight for his work. Among those he worked with were British poet Sinclair Beiles (»Magnetic Manifesto«) and musician Earl Brown, with whom Takis developed Sound of Void (1963), a predecessor of the sound sculptures he started developing in 1965, entitled Cadrans (1966). He also created sound spaces and participated in Performances together with Nam June Paik (Espace musical, 1979).
His work with electromagnetic sculptures led Takis to the U.S., to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). There, he concentrated on electromagnetic forces and their impact on liquids and created the »Sculpture hydromagnétique.« In the course of the 1970s, multimedia projects focusing on space, movement, and sound became increasingly important. Takis considered the »transformation of the material into energy« to be at the center of these works, energy being their »identity.« His compositions and light choreographic projects for music and theater stage are again based on this idea. Examples are his light choreography for the Dutch dance ensemble »Elkesis« (1973), the film music for Costa-Gavras’ »Section Speciale« (1974), as well as his music and stage design for Sophocles’ »Electra« (1983), directed by Michael Kakoyannis. Until today, sound sculptures, sound spaces (3 totems- Espace Musical, 1981, Centre Pompidou, Paris), but increasingly also projects in public space (Signaux lumineux, 1984 — 1990, Grande Arche de la Défense, Paris; Métro, 1999, Underground Station, Athens), kinetic sculptures powered by new energy sources (Solar Energy Sculpture, 2000), as well as »Olympic Spirals« and »Aeolian Signals« have remained Takis’ domains of work.
Many exhibitions have been dedicated to Takis’ work, among them a 1972 retrospective at the Centre National d’Art Contemporain in Paris. In 1993, a comprehensive show took place at the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, which moved on to Athens in 1995. Since the 1980s, Takis has participated in large international exhibitions, among them the Documenta VI (1977), the Paris Biennale (1985), where he received the national award for sculpture, and the Venice Biennale (1995, Greek Pavilion).
Since the early 1990s, Takis has lived and worked in Gerovouno, Attica.
Iris-time, L’artventure: Ausst.-Kat. Iris Clert, Paris 2003
Takis: Ausst.-Kat. Galerie National du Jeu de Paume, Paris u.a., hg. v. A. Pacquement, Paris 1993
Takis’ musikalische Räume: Ausst.-Kat. Kunstverein Hannover, Hannover 1974
Takis: Ausst.-Kat. Städtisches Museum Leverkusen, Schloss Morsbroich, hg. v. R. Wedewer, H. Gruber, Leverkusen, 1970
Takis – Evidence of the unseen: Ausst.-Kat. Hayden Gallery, Mass. Institute of Technology, Cambridge/ Mass. 1968