Queer Places:
Hugo Gallery, 26 E 55th St, New York, NY 10022
Alexander Iolas Gallery, 46 E 57th St, New York, NY 10022 (1951)
Alexander Iolas Gallery, 123 E 55th St, New York, NY 10022 (1956)
Alexander Iolas Gallery, 15 E 55th St, New York, NY 10022 (1963)
Alexander Iolas Gallery, 196 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75007 Paris, France (1960s)
Alexander Iolas Gallery, Rue Etienne-Dumont 14, 1204 Genève, Switzerland (1960s)
Alexander Iolas Gallery, Via Gioacchino Rossini, 3, 20122 Milano MI (1960s)
Brooks Jackson Gallery, 52 E 57th St, New York, NY 10022 (1970s)
Carla Lavatelli's studio, 414 E 75th St, New York, NY 10021
Villa Iolas, Agia Paraskevi 153 43, Greece

Alexander Iolas or Alexandre Iolas (born Konstantinos Koutsoudis, 25 March 1907 – 8 June 1987) was a Greek gallerist and collector. He owned galleries in the United States and Europe and contributed in many private and public art collections. Iolas was once painted by Leonor Fini, a portrait that depicts him as more beautiful than Ganymede, and he was convinced that that was how he looked when older. He was immensily vain, loved jewelry and wore extraordinary rings. He was also very Greek, and when one went to his place on First Avenue, one forgot it was a cold-water flat, so struck was one by the number of gilt-framed mirrors and gilt cherubim on every wall. The furniture tended to be brocaded and gilded, the carpets Oriental.

Alexander Iolas was born in Alexandria, Egypt, on March 25, 1907, to Andreas and Persephone Coutsoudis. At the age of fifteen, Iolas formed a spiritual bond with the poet Nikos Nikolaidis, who introduced him to Constantine Cavafy. At their first meeting, Cavafy gave him a poem, “Kaisarion,” written on one of those little pieces of paper that the Alexandrian poet used to give to his friends. After that, they began to meet more frequently. From Cavafy, Iolas learned his first lessons in princely modesty. Iolas's dream was to travel to Greece. Cavafy himself encouraged him: “Go, if that’s where your soul is… I’ll give you letters of introduction myself, to Angelos Sikelianos, Dimitris Mitropoulos, Kostis Palamas…”

In 1924, Iolas went to Berlin as a pianist, but soon started studying ballet. Around 1927 Iolas went to Athens, leaving his mother’s family behind, and the cotton business for which his father, the cotton merchant Konstantinos Koutsoudis, had been grooming him. He studied piano with Dimitris Mitropoulos – becoming one of his best students – and dance with Vasos and Tanagra Kanellou. In 1931, at Mitropoulos’s encouragement, he continued his studies in Berlin. He fled to Paris during Hitler's rise to power in the 1930s where he continued to study dance and socialized with artists such as Jean Cocteau, Giorgio de Chirico,[2] Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, René Magritte and Max Ernst. There he bought his first work of art. As a dancer he toured extensively in Europe, the United States and Latin America with Theodora Roosevelt[3] and later with the company formed by the Marquis George de Cuevas. In the early 1940s, Iolas was living in the United States and dancing at the Metropolitan Opera of New York with George Balanchine in Orpheus and Eurydice. But in 1944, after a foot injury, he left his career as a dancer and turned towards the visual arts.

In 1946, with the financial help of businesswoman Elizabeth Arden, he was named director of the recently opened Hugo Gallery, 26 East Fifty-Fifth Street, New York, founded in 1944 by Robert Rothschild, Elizabeth Arden and Maria dei Principi Ruspoli Hugo and owned by Hugo, a painter and grandson of Victor Hugo. There, Andy Warhol had his first solo exhibition Fifteen Drawings Based on the Writings of Truman Capote (June 16 – July 3, 1952)[4] In November 1951, he opened the Alexander Iolas Gallery, 46 East Fifty-Seventh Street, which relocated to 123 East Fifty-Fifth Street in 1956 and, then, to 15 East Fifty-Fifth Street in late 1963. In the early 1960s, Iolas opened galleries under his own name in Paris (196 boulevard Saint-Germain), Geneva (14 rue Etienne Dumont), and Milan (via Rossini 3). In the mid-1970s, he and Brooks Jackson, also a former dancer with whom he had worked since the mid-1950s, opened Brooks Jackson Gallery Iolas, 52 East Fifty-Seventh Street.

Alexander Iolas represented many artists in his galleries, among them Andy Warhol, René Magritte,[7] Roberto Matta, Ed Ruscha, Jean Tinguely, Joseph Cornell, Ernst, Yves Klein, Jannis Kounellis, Takis, Victor Brauner, Jules Olitski,[8] and Niki de Saint Phalle (born Catherine Marie-Agnes Fal de Saint Phalle). In promoting work that initially found few to favor it, he was able to reassure potential clients with his irresistible and often mischievous charm, dazzle them with his flamboyant personality and often sensational mode of dress.[9] Known primarily for his exclusive representation of the major European Surrealists in the United States- primarily Max Ernst and René Magritte - Alexander Iolas helped to form more than one important collection. In particular, John de Menil and Dominique de Menil, founders of the Menil Collection, retained him as one of their three art consultants, along with Father Marie-Alain Couturier and Jermayne MacAgy.[10]

From the mid 1960s Iolas started to spend a significant amount of time in Greece in his now-legendary villa in Agia Paraskevi (designed by the renowned architect Dimitris Pikionis), which he built on 2.5 undeveloped hectares purchased to the great surprise of others. There he housed his enormous personal collection of over 10,000 works of ancient, Byzantine, and contemporary art, and hosted some of the greatest figures of 20th century art: Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, Rene Magritte, Giorgio de Chirico, Novello Finotti, Eliseo Mattiacci, Niki de Saint-Phalle, Max Ernst, and others. One evening in particular has remained legendary, thanks to a dinner party for various celebrated figures, including Paloma Picasso. Iolas was in great need of a lady to complete the table, but none of his acquaintances were available to attend upon his very last-minute invitation. So he dressed his poor, deaf neighbor Michalis in a priceless dress, giving him a necklace and earrings and making him up to resemble one of Goya’s demonic old noblewomen. He introduced him as the Duchess of Agrinion, and no one questioned the “duchess’s” high birth or nobility, sitting there silently at the table. The episode, which Iolas recounted himself after the fact, became the stuff of legend in Europe. The story made its way all the way to Paris, where Ember d’Orsay wrote about it in Vogue.

In 1972, Iolas took over Carla Lavatelli's studio at 75th Street and 1st Ave. in New York for an exhibition. It was the first exhibition by a dealer at an artist's studio.[11] In 1976, he closed all his galleries except the one in New York after the death of Max Ernst, in order to keep a promise he had made to the artist. After the Iolas Gallery in Paris was closed in 1976, his former assistant Samy Kinge continued to run his own gallery with a similar program.[12] In 1984, Alexander Iolas commissioned Andy Warhol to create a group of works based on Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper for an exhibition space in the Palazzo delle Stelline in Milan, located across the street from Santa Maria delle Grazie, home of Leonardo's masterpiece. Warhol exceeded the demands of the commission and produced more than 100 variations on the theme.[13] From early 1965, Alexander Iolas started traveling to Greece. Extending his activities there, he contributed to the opening of some galleries in Athens, like the Iolas-Zoumboulakis gallery[14][15] and the Bernier Gallery. He also inspired the founding of the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki to which he donated a large number of art works from his collection. He is still listed as the Museum's 'great benefactor'. In 1983, he was accused by a former employee of "antiquities smuggling, drug peddling, and the prostitution of young men"- but never charged,[16] accusations that were circulated by the Greek tabloid newspaper, Avriani causing a scandal. In 1984, he was investigated for antiquities smuggling and subsequently charged. The charges were cleared only posthumously. He died of AIDS at Cornell Medical Center in New York City on Monday, June 8, 1987.[17]

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