Sophia Vari

Sophia Vari



Sophia Kanellopoulou, known as Sophia Vari, was born in 1940 in Vari, Attica. Her mother was from Hungary and her father was Greek. She spent her school years in Switzerland, Greece and London, and she began painting in 1956. In 1958, she studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and, in 1959, she returned to Athens. In 1960, she traveled to Egypt and then moved to Paris where she socialized with Edouard Mac Avoy, Jean Soubervie and Henry Moore. In the early years of her career, most of her works were paintings depicting exuberant nude female figures, in brown and red shades, which were characterized by dramatic shadings, intense twists and distortions and encompassed elements from baroque, mannerism and expressionism, as well as from the sculptures of the Hellenistic period. In 1977, she acquired a studio on rue de l'Arrivée, in the Montparnasse district of Paris, and started engaging with sculpture; it soon became her main occupation. Her early copper and marble sculptures were two-dimensional figurative anthropocentric forms, which gradually evolved into abstract forms. In 1978, she met Fernando Botero with whom she shared her life. In 1983, she exhibited at the Juana Mordó art gallery in Madrid. This is where she met Nohra Haime, who undertook to represent and show her work in North, South and Central America. In 1988, she created the sculpture Sunday Evenings (Soirées de Dimanche, 1988). The inspiration she drew from Latin American cultures and artists such as Donatello, Luca Della Rubia, Hans Arp, Joan Miró and Alexander Archipenko first became evident in that particular piece. At the same time, it marked the beginning of the plastic language she used for the rest of her career. Having adopted new dynamics in relation to form and structure, her following sculptures fashioned chains of flexible helical volumes that developed upwards or cyclically, composing harmonious levels that encompassed the center and gave a sense of motion. During that period, she also produced jewelry and small sculptures and, in 1990, she presented her first large-scale marble sculpture at the Eolia art gallery in Paris. She then produced a large number of artworks, which can be found in public spaces in France, Germany, the USA, Greece, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Colombia and other parts of the world. In 1992, she made her first collages and, since 1993, she started traveling to Mexico where she studied the art of the Mayans and the Olmecs. In 1994, she introduced color into her sculptures, highlighting selected volumes and levels. In 1995, the Utsukushi-ga-hara Open-Air Museum awarded her the first prize at the Japanese Sculpture Biennale. Monographs have been published for both her sculptures and jewelry, including: Sophia Vari (1999) from Rizzoli publications, Sophia Vari: Sculture monumentali (2002) from Polistampa publications, Bijoux Sculptes Sophia Vari (2010) from La Martinière publications and Forms and Colors: Sophia Vari (2017) from Glitterati Incorporated publications. From the beginning of her career, she has held numerous exhibitions in Europe, Asia and America at art spaces and museums such as at the Woodstock Gallery (1969) in London, the Schumacher Gallery (1969) in Munich, the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art (1975), the Nohra Haime Gallery (1985 to present) in New York, the National Gallery – Alexandros Soutsos Museum (1985) in Athens, the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art (1991), the Ulrich Art Museum (1998) in Witchita, the Ludwig Museum (2001) in Kombletz, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (2018) in Athens, and has participated in international exhibitions such as at the Salon d’Automne in Paris (1969, 1973), the Salon Ernée in Paris (1975, 1976, 1977, 1978), the Monte Carlo Sculpture Biennale (1991, 1993), the Salon de Mars (1992, 1996) in Paris, the Amsterdam Sculpture Biennale (1994), the FIAC in Paris (1993, 1994, 1999, 2000, 2004). In 2004, her retrospective was presented in Athens by the Benaki Museum and, in 2014, in Andros by the Basil and Elise Goulandris Museum. Her works can be found in public and private collections, some of which are at: the Fondation Veranneman (Belgium), the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas (Venezuela), the Musée de la Main (Switzerland), the Boca Raton Museum of Art (USA), the Ulrich Museum of Art (USA), the Utsukushi-ga-hara Open-Air Museum (Japan), the Museo de Antioquia (Colombia), the Beeldenaanzeen Museum (The Netherlands), the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (Portugal) and the Museo de Ponse (Puerto Rico). She lived and worked between Greece, France, Monaco and Italy. She died in Monte Carlo in 2023.