b. 1914 – d. 2010
lived and worked in New York
Nassos Daphnis (1914-2010) was a Greek-born American painter and sculptor recognized for his mastery of geometric abstraction and his evolution into what became known as hard-edge painting. In the late 1950s, Daphnis developed his color-plane theory to liberate color from the restriction of form. In doing so, he used multiple planes of solid color to create the illusion of depth, space, and movement amid smooth, uninterrupted surface textures. The interplay of Daphnis’ carefully chosen palette and dynamic shapes results in a vibrating, tension-ridden energy that allows color to be the primary element of the work, unconstrained by line or form. Critical reception of his exhibitions, including a breakthrough solo show with Leo Castelli in 1959, praised Daphnis as being both of the moment and ahead of the next; he remained outside recognized schools and moved fluidly among emerging styles.
Daphnis’ work was represented by long-time friend and iconic dealer Leo Castelli for forty years. Major institutional exhibitions include six editions of the Whitney Annual (1959–67), 64th Annual American Exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago (1961) and Geometric Abstraction in America at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1962). In 1977 he received the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship and was later the recipient of the Francis J. Greenburger Foundation Award (1986) and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award (1986). His work is included in the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Baltimore Museum, Baltimore, MD; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; and Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki, Greece.
“The important thing for me was to place the color in its proper plane, which I feel is the only way that a color can exist.”