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Chryssa, Paris Cityscape No 1

Assemblage made of red aluminium and yellow neon, resembling letters of the alphabet.

Paris Cityscape No 1 is a piece by Chryssa (Vardea). She is considered one of the most important modern Greek sculptors and a pioneer of minimalist art. She is an expat artist, as she spent most of her life in New York. The neon that she uses in her work is her trademark. 


Paris Cityscape No 1 by Chryssa belongs to the series Cityscapes that the sculptor created from 1957 to 1995.

In this series, she brilliantly captured her impressions from European and US metropolitan cities.

The deconstruction of language

Chryssa is fascinated by the forms of the alphabet letters. In Paris Cityscape No 1 she adopts her letters in a repetitive display.

Through language deconstruction, the piece highlights the unquestioning, mechanistic standardisation that characterises modern societies.

The osmosis of 2 elements and 2 eras

The composition of the piece is based on the combination of two 2 elements: the appealing forms of the letters in bright red aluminium plates and the yellow neon.

Through these elements, Chryssa disassembles the language idiom. In its place, she installs a new, highly symbolic language. A language favouring insightful decoding on the part of the audience.

In Paris Cityscapes No 1, 2 different worlds artfully meet:

  • The minimalist expression of post-modern art, especially in the USA.
  • The simplicity and substance of ancient Greek sculpture.

Her life in a nutshell

Chryssa Vardea (1933-2013) was born in Athens. She studied Painting at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris (1953-1954) and the School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California (1954-1955).

In 1955 she settled in New York.

Continuous experimentation

Chryssa’s sculpture is typified by her constant quest for and use of the accidental.

In the period 1957-1962 she created the Cycladic Books, using plaster that she accidentally spilled on some cardboard boxes. Because of these pieces she is considered a precursor of minimalist art.

Introducing the neon

From 1962 onwards Chryssa introduced neon in her works; a material representative of the flashy, plastic America and its consumer lifestyle.

The inspiration behind the sculptor’s systematic use of this material came from the city of New York. The lights on the billboards and signs in bustling Times Square led the artist to this choice.

A recognised artist

An expat artist, Chryssa is considered one the most important contemporary Greek sculptors.

She held her first solo exhibition in 1961 at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York. Numerous solo exhibitions in Greece and abroad followed.

Among the group exhibitions she participated in, the ones in Whitney, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in New York, the São Paulo Biennale in 1963 and 1969 and the Venice Biennale in 1972 are those that stand out.

2 important pieces by Chryssa are installed in public spaces in Athens:

  • The sculpture Mott Street (1983) in Evangelismos Metro Station, which was inspired by Chinatown in Manhattan.
  • The sculpture Clytemnestra (1967) outside the Megaron Athens Concert Hall.

The work of art in our publications

Paris Cityscape No 1 by Chryssa is referenced in the Alpha Bank publications:

In other literature

Paris Cityscape No 1 by Chryssa is referenced in:

  • Contemporary Greek Artists: Chryssa (in Greek) by Takis Mavrotas.
  • Global Corporate Collections by Gérard A. Goodrow.

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