George Kokines: Layers Revealed


  • National Hellenic Museum

September 20, 2018–December 22, 2019

George Kokines (American 1930-2012), Labyrinth Wall, c. 1993. Oil on cement and steel mesh. Courtesy of Anna Miller.

The National Hellenic Museum is full of color and texture for the first ever retrospective of the Abstract Expressionist painter George Kokines. Visitors learn about Kokines’ place in the art world as they view his impressive 8ft-tall carved cement works, drawings of geometrical forms, paintings layered with unconventional materials, and more.

The exhibition traces Kokines’ journey to embrace his Greek American identity, his constant experimentation, and how his experiences — including beginning his career in Chicago — influenced his work. Kokines attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and his classmates included Abstract Expressionist sculptor Richard Hunt and future art critic Harry Bouras. Upon graduation in 1960, Kokines was heralded as an emerging Chicago artist. His reputation began to grow through his connections from art school and exhibiting work in and around Chicago. In 1962, Kokines participated in the Art Institute of Chicago’s “65th Annual Exhibition by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity” and the jury awarded Kokines the top award, the Mr. and Mrs. Frank G. Logan Medal for his piece Embracement No. 1.

The works in George Kokines: Layers Revealed exemplify Kokines’ textural and immersive style, his embrace of gesture and improvisation, and his mastery of abstraction.