November, 2023

202320NovAll Day27JanAthena Politopoulou-Kargsten: The Musicality of Sculpture(All Day)

Event Details

When: November 20, 2023-January 27, 2024

Opening: Monday 20 November, 2023, from 18.30

Opening hours: Thursdays and Fridays 15.00 – 19.00, Saturdays 12.00 – 16.00 and by appointment

Where: ACG Art Gallery, 6 Gravias Street, 15342, Athens, Greece


Curated by: Ioanna Papapavlou (Sr Manager ACG Art Collection, Deree – The American College of Greece)

“It is impossible to contemplate Athena’s triads, her chords, unless one also hears them as musical tones.”
­– Kimon Friar in “The Triforms of Athena Politopoulou-Kargsten,” 1984



About the exhibition

The American College of Greece (ACG) is pleased to present the retrospective exhibition by Athena Politopoulou-Kargsten, The Musicality of Sculpture at ACG Art Gallery, as part of a series of events marking the 100 Years of the College’s operation in Greece.

As a prolific female artist, Politopoulou-Kargsten was a prominent figure of her time, and her work remains just as relevant and influential today. In the exhibition The Musicality of Sculpture, she invites viewers to experience an exploration of the past as well as the feminine body in motion. A sensation of movement courses through the artist’s creative universe, defining her artistic practice. With references to music and dance, she alludes to a subconscious human desire to relive the past through mythology and release long-held memories and emotions. The vivid aesthetic language and visual rhythm of her work gestures compellingly to its surroundings, producing a sense of pleasure and equilibrium.

Spanning more than five decades of artistic production, the exhibition traces the evolution of the artist’s continuous experimentation with form, shape, and style through the mediums of drawing and sculpture. Musical Rays (1992), inspired by musical scores and instruments, is the centerpiece of the exhibition. Responding to musical abstraction through a three-dimensional object, the work reflects a continuum of juxtaposed shapes, producing an interplay of light and shadows. The artist will also present a new body of sculptural work that delves deeper into geometric abstraction, including Reverse (2023), which harmoniously combines favorite materials with distinctly different qualities for the first time: white marble, African wood, and plexiglas.

The exhibition features twenty pieces from “Triforms,” a series of sculptures Politopoulou-Kargsten started producing in 1980. Now considered her most important work, it encapsulates her contribution to contemporary sculpture. Juxtaposing three successive carved layers of either marble, wood, or plexiglas, these works place the focus on a female body in constant flux, swaying to the rhythm of an imaginary musical composition. Complex shapes and mysterious cuts into the cores of the sculptures create both positive and negative spaces in each of the works. Maneuvering through the passage of light, the forms also recall minimalistic representations of musical instruments. Kimon Friar noted the recurring triad trope in Politopoulou-Kargsten’s work, which added a metaphysical element to her practice invoking a triad chord or a Bach fugue.

The exhibition also presents early works on paper, fabric, and wood as well as sculptures, including Motherhood (1958) and The Three Graces (1958), sculptures reminiscent of Cycladic idols; Kore (1961), a statuette in gilded plaster; and the series “Metamorphoses” (1989), in which the artist revisits the face of the Kore, invoking questions of identity and the ever-changing human condition. The three works included in the series “Study of Models” (1967) are early attempts to explore the imprints bodies leave behind in the physical spaces they occupy temporarily.

From 1968 to 1992, the artist’s preoccupation with representations of the female body became more prominent in her work. Inspired by the Venus of Willendorf (25,000 BC), she created a series of female figurines with steatopygous features starting in 1968.  On display in the exhibition are the works Aphrodites (1971), Female Figure (1972), and Erotic (1973), all depicting females whose abundant abdomens and thighs elevate them to archetypal symbols of fertility.

The Musicality of Sculpture features artworks from the collections of the National Gallery of Greece-Alexandros Soutsos Museum, Vorres Museum, and The American College of Greece, as well as the artist’s own personal archive. Oscillating between realism and abstraction, the artworks in the exhibition together challenge the normativity of form and unite the sensibilities of classical Greece with late European Modernism.

The exhibition is accompanied by the catalogue “Athena Politopoulou- Kargsten : The Musicality of Sculpture” published by The American College of Greece, edited by Dr. Megakles Rogakos.


Athena Politopoulou-Kargsten (born 1938, Volos, Greece) lives and works between Athens, Patmos, and Stockholm. She graduated from Pierce College in 1957 and received a scholarship to study at Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri (1957-58) and Milwaukee-Downer College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1958-60). After completing her studies, she married Swedish pediatrician Sven-Olof Kargsten and moved to Stockholm, where she studied at the Konstfack–University of Arts, Crafts, and Design (1961-72) and the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts (1972-74). Parallel to her artistic activity, she collaborated with the philhellene professor Sture Linnér to promote Greek culture in Sweden. In 1998, the Society of the Friends of the Swedish Institute at Athens honored Politopoulou-Kargsten with a prize for her work. In 2011, The American College of Greece commissioned her to design the ACG Alumni Award–Maria West, awarded to outstanding alumni for their contributions to culture. Solo exhibitions have been presented at Galerie Zygos, Athens (1984); Galerie 17, Stockholm (1986); Galerie Regio Genevensis, Carouge, Geneva (1987); Banque Suisse de Credits et Dépôts, Geneva (1987); Pandora Mansion, Makrinitsa, Pelion and Giorgio de Chirico Art Center, Volos (1993). She has also participated in several group exhibitions in Cyprus, France, Greece, Sweden and Switzerland.

Athena Politopoulou-Kargsten’s work is held at the National Gallery–Alexandros Soutsos Museum, Vorres Museum, The American College of Greece, and Municipal and Regional Theater of Volos, as well as collections in Italy, Finland, France, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.

Curatorial assistants: Evan Katsounis, Dimitra Kostoula, Athina Lasithiotaki, Katerina Milesi, Christina Tsaprailis (Deree students)

The dance performance during the opening is organized by Deree’s Dance Area:

  • Performers: Haley Lowenthal and Evan Katsounis (Deree students)
  • Choreography: Dr. Daphne Mourelou (Dance Area Coordinator, Deree – The American College of Greece), in collaboration with the performers
  • Music: Nassos Sopilis (Manager of MU/TV/DM Studios, Deree – The American College of Greece)

Supported by the Office of Public Affairs, Office of Advancement & Alumni and the Frances Rich School of Fine and Performing Arts. In collaboration with Deree’s Dance Area: Frances Rich School of Fine and Performing Arts.

Special thanks to the National Gallery-Alexandros Soutsos Museum and the Vorres Museum for the loans of works from their collections.

Melodious Rays
Athena Politopoulou-Kargsten, Melodious Rays, 1992, Steel and plexiglass, 180 x 90 x 90 cm, Courtesy of the artist




Musical Memory
Athena Politopoulou-Kargsten, Musical Memory, 1991, Marble, 83 x 25 x 9 cm, Courtesy of the artist




Musical Memory
Athena Politopoulou-Kargsten, Musical Memory, 1991, Pencil on paper, 64 x 46 cm, Courtesy of the artist




Sounds of Silence
Athena Politopoulou-Kargsten, Sounds of Silence, 1991, Patina on African wood, 78 x 23 x 9 cm, Courtesy of the artist




Athena Politopoulou-Kargsten, Couple, 1983, plexiglass, 36 x 27 x 4 cm, Courtesy of the artist





Athena Politopoulou-Kargsten, Composition, 1984, Patina on African wood, 113 x 60 x 14 cm, Courtesy of the Vorres Museum, Paiania




Female Figure
Athena Politopoulou-Kargsten, Female Figure, 1972, Gilded epoxy, 62 x 17 x 14 cm, Courtesy of the artist




Triform (Ode to Spring)

Athena Politopoulou-Kargsten, Triform (Ode to Spring), 1984, patina on African wood, 101 x 59 x 13 cm, Courtesy of the National Gallery-Alexandros Soutsos Museum



Athena Politopoulou-Kargsten, Anatasis, 1987, marble, 165 x 44 x 9 cm, The American College of Greece Art Collection







Athena Politopoulou-Kargsten, Reverse, 2023, marble, patina on African wood, plexiglass, 56 x 32 59 cm, Courtesy of the artist