Ioannis (Yannis) Faitakis

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The term “tapestry” derives from the French word “tapisserie”. According to Ioannis Faitakis, tapestry is simply “textile art”,[1] a form of painting using threads. This explains perhaps why his work was supported by prominent painters of his time, who offered him their designs for free. Ioannis Faitakis was born in 1926 and died in 2012 in the town of Neapolis, in Agios Nikolaos, Crete. Having dropped out of the Athens Law School, he attended courses at the School of Fine Arts until 1956, studying next to Yiannis Moralis and Yannis Tsarouchis. In 1960, at the encouragement of Tsarouchis and Rena Andreadis,[2] he moved to Paris financed by the Royal Welfare Fund to attend specialized courses at the Manufacture Nationale de Gobelins and the Écoles de Tapisseries d’ Aubusson.

The first and only tapestry workshop in Greece opened after his return to the country in 1961, under the auspices of the Royal Welfare Fund. The workshop was located at 16 Papadiamantopoulou St., in Ilisia. There, he went about teaching the secrets of the trade to “his girls”, who were “pure gold for Greece”, had “divine hands”, and “were among the best artisans in the world”. His student Aristea Skorda-Zania recalls how Faitakis was always very friendly with his students and worked with them collectively to help them evolve, which is why they eventually came to be known not simply as his students and partners, but as the “Faitakis’ girls”. In the early days of the workshop, most of the students were artisans from the renowned folk-art foundation “Elliniko Spiti” (Greek home) created by Aggeliki Chatzimichali. Later, girls from the Royal Welfare Fund schools in the periphery would also join in, to study next to Faitakis. The threads they used were imported from France, and usually made of high-quality wool, therefore appropriate for tapestry. They used two main weaving techniques (dégradé and battase), as well as approximately 150 different colors.

Natalia Mitsioni
Historian-archaeologist, postgraduate art history student



[1] “Woven pictures”, The Athenian, May 1986, p.24.                

[2] Rena Andreadis was a prominent donor to the Benaki Museum. She met Ioannis Faitakis sometime after 1956, when he was visiting the Museum to study folk tapestries and Coptic textiles.

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ΕΣΠΑ 2014-2020

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MOMus