Stamos was born in New York City in 1922 to parents of Greek ancestry.
His first solo exhibition - at age 21 - took place at the Wakefield
Bookstore, under the aegis of Betty Parsons. He died in Greece in 1997.
He was the youngest member of the avant-garde group called the "Irascibles",
the founding core of The New York School, which included Mark Rothko,
Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still, Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock,
among others. These artists were the first American artists to consciously
make a break with the School of Paris in pursuing their own aims for
a serious new approach to painting.
Stamos' work has shifted and evolved more dramatically than most of
the Abstract Expressionsts. He is in fact one of the first to use both
"colorfield" and "gestural" techniques, painting
across these lines to the end of his career. He nurtured his deep identification
with ancient myths and with the classical philosophy of ancient Greece
particularly, and this spirit sustained his work. His exploration of
the relationship of nature - in form, scale, coloration, light, and
mood - to art was never far from the forefront of his concerns. He shifted
his medium from oil to water-based paints, and his painting surfaces
became thinner and flatter than those of the earlier works, but without
a loss of luminosity and beauty of coloration. They are marked with
great attention to not only the apportioning of color to area and shape,
but also the layering - or veiling - of color.
In an essay for the catalogue which accompanied a Stamos exhibition
at Kouros nearly 20 years ago, the critic and author, Dore Ashton, observed
that the relationship between the natural world and the precincts of
art was a central concern for Stamos. She discussed the fine particularity
with which he responded - visually and emotionally - to the light and
coloration of specific localities. These include various landscapes
which he grew to know on most intimate terms - the North Fork of Long
Island and the island of Lefkada in the Ionian Sea (where he spent his
last years), as well as highly distinctive sites, notably Jerusalem
As was true of the great German Romantic painter, Caspar David Friedrich,
to whom he dedicated a series of paintings in the 1980s, Stamos
was concerned in his work not only with the division of the visible
universe into sea and sky or land and sky, but also - beyond that -
the great divide of life and death.
His work is in innumerable public and private collections throughout
Full color catalogue available.