He studied at the Athens School of Fine Arts under Spyridon Vikatos, Umvertos Argyros and Epameinondas Thomopoulos (1933-1938). In 1938, on a scholarship from the Athens Academy, he went to Paris where he continued his studies at the School of Fine Arts under Charles Guerin and at private schools. He returned to Greece in 1940 and later began to present his works in solo, group and international exhibitions in Greece and abroad (Alexandria Biennale 1955, Sao Paolo Biennale 1957, Documenta, Kassel 1964, 1975). In 1960 he won the UNESCO Prize at the 30th Venice Biennale. In 1961 he won the Gold Medal of the City of Ostende in Belgium, in 1966 the Order of the Phoenix in Athens and in 1978 the Gottfried von Herder Prize in Vienna. In November 1990, just a few months after his death, the Jannis and Zoe Spyropoulos Foundation was formed, whose aim is the collecting, study, presentation and exploitation of the paintings of Jannis Spyropoulos as well as the support of young painters. In 1992 the house-museum was inaugurated showing the developmental course of the painter, and the same year it awarded for the first time the J. Spyropoulos Prize for talented young visual artists. In 1994 the Macedonian Mu-seum of Contemporary Art organized a retrospective exhibition of his work and a year later this was followed by a retrospective at the National Gallery.
“A Classicist of Abstraction”, Spyropoulos steadfastly forged ahead in regard to the development of his morphoplastic quests, from pictorial rendering to abstract rendering and finally to pure abstraction. From the doctrines of Cezanne and the schematized figure, he went on to geometric structure and construction by means of color, and then was gradually led to a combinative use of heterogeneous materials with the technique of oil painting, the juxtaposition of large dark and smaller luminous color surfaces achieving in his final works on paper, spareness and inwardness.