A child of Greek immigrants, he took night lessons at the School of American Artists in New York (1936-1940). In 1943 he had his first solo show at the Wakefield bookstore and gallery. During the years immediately following, important American museums and modern art centers began to acquire his works. In 1947 he exhibited with other innovative artists, such as Still, Reinhardt and Newman at the Betty Parsons Gallery and had a solo exhibition at the same gallery. In 1948-1949 he travelled to France, Italy and Greece. In 1950, along with seventeen other avant garde artists among which were Rothko, Pollock and De Kooning, he signed a letter of protest denouncing the conservative criteria used for the mounting of an exhibition of modern American painting at the Metropolitan Museum of New York. At the same time he was interested in Far Eastern philosophy as well as Japanese art and calligraphy. A little later, in 1954, he created his first Color Fields . In 1958/1959 works of his were included in the important exhibition “Modern American Painting” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which signalled the rise to prominence of abstract expressionism, and during the same period he began his association with the Andre Emmerich Gallery which lasted until 1970. In 1963 he painted the first works of the series Sun-Boxes and in 1966 taught as a visiting professor at the Columbia University. In 1970 he started the series Infinity Fields and began to divide his time between New York and Lefkada, where his family was from. In 1972 he presented his monochromatic works at the Marlborough gallery in New York and two years later had his first solo exhibition in Greece, at the Art gallery of Athens. In 1975 he donated forty five of his works to the National Gallery in Athens. Large retrospective exhibitions of his works have been organized at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington (1958), the Knoedler Gallery in Zurich (1984) and the National Gallery in Athens (1997).
A leading figure in abstract expressionism internationally, throughout his life he consistently moved ahead in the visual arts – from his biomorphic paintings (1945-1949) and his abstract and calligraphic works (1949- 1955) to the three large series he created from 1954 to 1993 – producing a spiritual work noted for its existential and ontological content.