Greek issue of 'Classics Illustrated' about Theseus.

Costas Grammatopoulos was an influential Greek painter, engraver and illustrator, known for his wartime propaganda posters, textbook illustrations and innovative mythology-based engravings. During the 1950s, he was one of the artists of original Greek version of the 'Classics Illustrated' comic book series.

Early life
Born in Athens in 1916, Costas Grammatopoulos (Κώστας Γραμματόπουλος) came from a family with Greek-Turkish roots. His father Panagiotis Grammatopoulos was a cabinetmaker originating from Danca, a coastal town with a large Greek population in Turkey's Marmara region. A couple of years before his birth, his parents had moved from Istanbul to Athens. Graduated from high school in 1934, Costas Grammatopoulos was admitted to the Athens School of Fine Arts (Α.Σ.Κ.Τ.), where he studied under the distinguished engraver Giannis Kefallinos and the Impressionist painter Oumbertos Argyros.

Propaganda posters: 'The Heroines of 1940' and 'Forward, Children of Greece'.

World War II
While still a student, Grammatopoulos became noticed during the Greco-Italian War (1940-1941) for his propaganda posters, which were printed by thousands and pasted on the walls in towns and villages. Several of these patriotic posters became iconic. 'The Heroines of 1940' honored the many Greek women who voluntarily aided the soldiers fighting in the Pindus Mountains. The motivational 'Come and Get 'M!' and 'Forward, Children of Greece!' showed Greek soldiers with bayonets, ready to teach the attackers a lesson. During the German occupation, the artist also contributed to propaganda publications of the resistance movement, for which he was arrested and tortured.

Alphabet book 'The Good Children' (1949).

After the war, Grammatopoulos embarked upon a career as a professional illustrator. From 1944 on, he portrayed many Greek writers for the literary magazine Nea Estia, most notably Kostis Palamas, Angelos Terzakis, Elias Venezis, Miltiadis Malakasis and Angelos Sikelianos. He also illustrated books, including several important textbooks that dominated the Greek post-war educational system. An entire generation grew up with his fondly remembered illustrations, that livened their up the difficult childhood years after World War II. His alphabet book 'The Good Children' was awarded with the First Prize during the 1949 International Textbook Exhibition in Laeken, Belgium. The 1955 book 'Alphabet', with the characters Lola and Mimi, was used in Greek schools for more than twenty years.

Classics Illustrated
During this early period, Costas Grammatopoulos also did comic book work for the Greek 'Classics Illustrated' series ('Κλασσικά Εικονογραφημένα'). The American comic book series with adaptations of literary classics was launched in Greece in 1951, with translations by Vassilis Rotas. By October 1953, the translated issues were supplemented with locally produced installments, presenting tales from Byzantine/Greek history and ancient mythology in comic book format. Coordinated and written by Rotas, the first Greek issue (issue #43 in the series) was about the mythological story of Perseus and Andromeda. Costas Grammatopoulos was the artist, who subsequently illustrated installments about Theseus and the leader of the 1821-1830 Greek Revolution against the Ottomans. Other artists for the local 'Classics Illustrated' comic books were Costas' wife, Alkmini Grammatopoulou, as well as George Vakalo, Bost, Pavlos Valasakis, Gerasimos Livieratos, Takis Katsoulidis, Giannis Dragonas, Vasilis Zisis and Nikos Kastanakis.

Greek issues of 'Classics Illustrated' about Perseus & Andromeda and Theseus with the Minotaur.

The traditional Greek style of Costas P. Grammatopoulos received influences from modern art when the artist continued his education in France. Between 1954 and 1958, he studied painting, engraving, etching and graphic arts at several Parisian art schools. Back home, he assumed a new personal style for his colorful engravings with themes based on Aegean and Greek mythology. In 1974, he created the current coat of arms of the Hellenic Republic.

Legacy and recognition
An influential artist in his own right, Grammatopoulos introduced hundreds of young artists to his profession. Between 1959 and 1985, he was a teacher in the fields of engraving and book art at the Athens School of Fine Arts. Additionally, he served as the school's director (1973-1975) and rector (1978-1980). In 1968, he represented Greece at the 34th Venice Biennale, but he was deprived of winning the exhibition's first prize because of the international outcry against the dictatorial colonel's regime of Georgios Papadopoulos. In 1972, he was awarded the Gold Medal of Engraving at the Florence Biennale.

Final years and death
Grammatopoulos spent the final years of his career, from the early 1980s until the early 1990s, making innovative paintings and color lithographs. After that, his failing health kept him from going on. Costas P. Grammatopoulos passed away in October 2003, at the age of 87.

'At Parnassos' (1970).

Costas Grammatopoulos on

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