Chryssa (Vardea) was born in Athens, in 1933. At the age of twenty, she moved to Paris, where she studied at the Academie de la Grande Chaumière and was exposed to the postwar Surrealist milieu and its seminal figures, artists such as Andre Breton and Max Ernst.

In 1954 she attended the California School of Fine Arts and at the end of the same year she settled in New York, where, fascinated and inspired by the vibrant environment, started her internationally acknowledged career. The urban landscapes, the inscriptions with the bright neon lights, the metal constructions, the signs of Chinatown became the key elements of her inspiration.

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Her work, both poetic and dynamic- as dynamic as the New York environment is- ranks her among the most pioneering and acclaimed sculptors of the contemporary art scene.

Chryssa’s Greek heritage became also apparent on her major work “Cycladic Books” a series of plaster geometrical sculptures created in the mid-1950’s.

A milestone in Chryssa’s work is the sculptural complex “The Gates to Times Square”, a tribute to the urban New York landscapes, presented in 1968 at the Grand Central Terminal, New York.

During the 1970’s Chryssa executed a series of Neon sculptures and inspired by her frequent visits to New York’s Chinatown executed a series of Chinese Cityscapes using the oriental script into monochromatic palettes. Chinatown and the Urban landscape of New York also inspired Chryssa to create a series of wall reliefs worked on several years, beginning around 1980. In these sculptures the artist fashioned large characters -Chinese or Latin and later on Greek – out of metal and joined them in compositions that project from the wall in an imposing manner. These elements are placed both perpendicular to and parallel to the wall, while fluorescent or neon tubes are placed about the curved metal surfaces and emphasize the volumes and outlines of the abstract compositions.

Chryssa’s works are included in the collections of the Metropolitan, the Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney in New York, the Albright Knox in Buffalo, the Hirshorn Museum-Smithsonian Institution of Washington, the Tate Gallery in London and in many museums, public and private collections around the world.

In Greece, sculptures by Chryssa are permanently exhibited at the Athens Metro station and the entrance of the Athens Megaron Concert Hall. Her works can also be found at the National Gallery of Athens, the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki and at the European Cultural Centre of Delphi.

Mihalarias Art gallery has had a long time cooperation with the artist, and has presented through major exhibitions the most important aspects of her work. In 1990 with a major retrospective Chryssa 60/90 to the more recent ones such as “Homage to Peace” in 2007 and “Memories of Chinatown and American Cityscapes” in 2010.

Chryssa passed away in December 2013 in Athens. She bequeathed some of her sculptures to the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens. With her will, she appointed Stavros Mihalarias, in charge of the authentication of her work, the restoration and technical advice related to her works as well as the right to produce a catalogue raisonné.

Selected Bibliography

  • Chryssa ed.P.Restany, published by Abrams Editions Inc, New York, 1977
  • Chryssa Cityscapes ed. D. Schultz Ed.Thames & Hudson Inc., New York, 1990
  • Chryssa Cycladic Books 1957-1962 Itanos Editions,Crete,Greece 1992.
  • Chryssa Cine Oasis 1990-99 text T.Mavrotas Itanos editions, Athens.
  • Chryssa Cycladic Books 1957-1962 N.Goulandris Foundation-Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, September 1997
  • Chryssa Contemporary Greek Artists, by T. Mavrotas, edited by NEA, Athens 2009.
  • Chryssa 60-90, Mihalarias Art, Athens, May 1990
  • Major Creators of the 20th century European Cultural Centre Delphi, Greece, Summer 2000
  • Chryssa Mihalarias Art, Athens, Dec.2001-Jan.2002.
  • Chryssa Paintings, Mihalarias Art, Athens, May 2005.
  • Chryssa- Homage to Peace, Mihalarias Art, Athens, April 2007.
  • Chryssa, Memories of Chinatown and Memories of American Cityscapes, Mihalarias Art, Athens, June-July 2010
  • Chryssa Cycladic Books, Mihalarias Art at Art Athina 2018, Athens

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Museums and Public Collections

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Sculpture Collection:
“That’s all” 1970-75
“Birds” five Neon Boxes

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Museum of Modern Art, New York
Sculpture Collection:
Variations of the “Ampersand” 1966
Five sculptures. Neon in tinted plexiglass boxes
“Projection Letter F” , relief 1958-1960
Drawing Collection: Twenty Drawings
Print Collection: “Newspapers” Twenty two prints

The Solomon R.Guggenheim Museum, New York
Sculpture Collection:
“Three Arrows” 1960, cast aluminum
“Construction A” 1970-73
Construction study for “That’s all” 1969-70
“Fragmented Signature” 1970
Painting Collection
“Newsapaper No 3” 1961
Study for large “Newspaper” 1958-59

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Sculpture Collection:
“Three Arrows” 1960
Large “Neon Box” study for the Gate No 2, 1966
Print Collection: “Newspaper” prints

Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York
Sculpture Collection:
“The Gates to Times Square” 1964-66
“Letter T” 1959
Small study for “Automat” 1970
“Fragment HC” 1971
“Large Bird Shape” 1973-1975
“Neon Bird” 1969
“Multicolour Ns” 1973
Untitled 1959
Painting Collection
“Ice Cream Advertisement” 1977-1979
“Regency Towers” 1977-1979
“Measure” Chinese 1977-1979
“Chinese Dawn” 1977-1979
“Chinese Flower within squares” 1977-1979
“Chiantown Gray” 1977-1979
“Classified Ads” 1960

Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution,
Washington DC
Sculpture Collection:
“Flock of Morning Birds” from Iphigenia in Avlis by Euripides 1967

The North Carolina Museum of Art, Ralleigh, North Carolina
Sculpture Collection: One Neon and one Plaster sculpture
Six drawings

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Two oil pantings

Philadelphia Museum of Art
One sculpture

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
“Times Square Sky” 1962

Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC
“Clytemnestra” 1967

Newberger Museum, New York
Two Drawings

The Princeton Art Museum, Princeton, New Jersey
“Negative Cents”

Hayden Gallery M.I.T. Boston, Massachusetts
Four Neon Sculptures

Aldrich Museum, Connecticut
Sculpture Collection: “Metal Birds with Neon” 1969

Smart Museum, Chicago University
Three oil paintings

The Governor Nelson A.Rockefeller
Empire Stare Plaza Collection, Albany, New York
Sculpture Collection: “Arrow” Homage to Times Square. 1958

National Galerie, Berlin Germany
Sculpture Collection: “Clytemnestra” 1968

The Tate Gallery London
Sculpture Collection: “Study for the Gates” 1967

Museum Boymans van Beuninzen
Rotterdam, Netherlands – Paintings

Musee d’Art Contemporain, Montreal, Canada
Sculpture Collection: “Plaster Letter Group” 1970

Stedelijk van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, Netherlands
Sculpture Collection: “Analysis of Letter Y” 1965

Ethniki Pinakothiki, Athens, Greece
Sculpture Collection: “Times Square Boogie Woogie”

The Megaron Concert Hall, Athens Greece “Clytemnestra”

The Athens Metro Station, Greece “Mott street Sculpture”

The European Cultural Center at Delphi, Greece

The Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Thesaloniki, Greece

The Chase Manhattan Bank Collection, New York

Boise Art Association, Boise Cascade

University of Chicago, Eero Saarinen Building

Metternich Collection, Castle Schloess Adelsleben, Germany

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