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City Tech Joins in Mourning Passing of World-Acclaimed Alumnus

Stephen Antonakos with one of his works.
Photo credit: Eleni Mylonas, via Lori Bookstein Fine Art

The New York City College of Technology community was saddened to learn of the passing of alumnus and internationally acclaimed artist Stephen Antonakos, 86, in August 2013. Mr. Antonakos was a 1949 graduate of the New York State Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences, the name City Tech carried until 1953. Mr. Antonakos began his career as a commercial illustrator, who went on to make illumination an essential component of his work.

Half a century ago, Mr. Antonakos ushered neon out of the periodic table of chemical elements and into the realm of fine art. “His work, which encompasses public-art installations and pieces in the collections of the world’s foremost museum,” wrote New York Times journalist Margalit Fox in a September 7, 2013, feature article on the artist and his work, “ is leagues apart from the commercial signage that until the late 20th century was neon’s fundamental expression.

“Mr. Antonakos used neon as a painter uses paint,” Fox went on to write. “Minimalist, with fluid lines and saturated colors that recall Matisse, his art has appeared in spaces as diverse as airports in Atlanta, Milwaukee and Bari, Italy; metro stations in Boston, Baltimore, Denver and Athens; a power station in Tel Aviv; and a police station in Chicago.”

Works by Mr. Antonakos are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art in Manhattan. City Tech is proud to have played a part in the early education of this innovative, world-renowned artist.


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