‘Untitled’ – Jannis Kounellis, 1979

Untitled 1979 by Jannis Kounellis born 1936

(Image taken from; http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/kounellis-untitled-t03796)

A piece that has always interested me, and one that I often stop by to ponder about when I visit Tate Modern, is ‘Untitled’ by Jannie Kounellis. A strange piece, and an awfully morose one at that, it depicts two crows seemingly caught mid-flight by two arrows. They fly over an empty, seemingly depressing, industrial town. Next to this rather somber scene, there are five black, charcoal drawings of women’s heads and black landscapes scratched into the carbonised surface. They seem to echo the smoke billowing out of the chimney within the town, possibly referencing the darkness that industrialisation brought to the town.


Detail of the stuffed birds; Hooded Crow

(Image taken from; https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7142/6419611931_00944ab63d_z.jpg)

There is no happiness within this work, nothing to applaud, nor to celebrate; it is a dark piece. The birds have attempted to fly away from this dark place, and have been slain in their efforts. If the birds cannot escape this life, then how can we? It seems to be a nod to the world that most lower class people have found themselves in, and although there is a sense of togetherness and joviality often amongst the people residing in these areas, there is also a deep sadness for it. Often, once someone is born into that life, there is no way out, industrialisation made this the nor within the lives of the British people, and it has remained that way until this day. The birds are not seen as powerful here, not free, they are as mortal as us, and their weakness has been shown; is this something we should feel a great sadness for? or something that we should feel a sick pleasure in, a way to show that even those that can achieve what we cannot, have their weaknesses, and can die.

What a morose message to convey within a work of art!


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