Athanase Apartis (1899-1972)

« Apartis, disciple of Bourdelle and of 4th century Hellenism »

Louis Vauxcelles, Excelsior, 1925

Athanase Apartis was born in Smyrna in Asia Minor on October 24, 1899. He was the son of a tailor, and one of six children. From a young age, he was attracted to manual work, and when still a very young man, made a commemorative medal for an athlete. He worked frequently in the studio of an Armenian sculptor, Papazian, who had studied in Rome and Venice, and took courses from the painter Ithakissios.

After moving to Paris, he discovered both Rodin’s work and the antique sculpture in the Louvre. He pursued his studies at the Academie Julian and the Ecole des Beaux Arts, where he frequented the studios of Paul Landowski and Henri Bouchard, both recipients of the Prix de Rome. 

In 1921, he showed three works in the Salon d’Automne and made the acquaintance of Antoine Bourdelle. He decided to leave the Academie Julian in order to begin studying at the Grande Chaumière. Bourdelle was a strong supporter of Apartis until his death in 1929 and was instrumental in getting his work accepted for the Salon des Tuileries in 1923. 

In the 1920s, Apartis began receiving commissions and executed a series of portraits of important people of the day. Made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1939, he exhibited at the Petit Palais and the Jeu de Paume. The French government purchased his Woman and Child, and the Greek government commissioned a version of Adonis.

Once back in Athens, he remained active. In 1959, he was made a professor of drawing at the Technological Institute of Athens and, two years later, a professor of sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts. From 1967 on, he was an important corresponding member of the Academie des Beaux Arts of the Institut de France. After a long illness, he died on April 1, 1972, at the age of 72.