Antoine Malliarakis aka Mayo Biography

Antoine Malliarakis aka Mayo




Antoine Malliarakis who used the name “Mayo”, was born on February 15, 1905 in Port Said, Egypt, the son of a Greek engineer of the Suez Canal and a French mother. Mayo spent his youth at a Jesuit school in Alexandria, Egypt, a severe, lasting experience that forged his desire for independence and freedom.

After graduating, his father sent him to Paris to study architecture, but Mayo already had begun constantly drawing and painting. In Paris he frequented Montparnasse, where he became friends with artists Tzara, Picabia, Foujita, and even became a regular at Le Jockey Club, an artistic epicenter of the time, in the company of the famous artists’ model Alice Prin, known in Montparanasse as “Kiki”.

In 1924 Mayo received the Beaux Arts in Paris and he participated in meetings of the new Surrealist movement where he became friends with Desnos and Prévert. However, Mayo preferred his independence and did not officially join the Surrealist group.

After participating in many group exhibitions he finally began having solo shows and in 1930, rented his first studio. He contributed to the magazine Le Grand Jeu. Like many of the Surrealists the Popular Front and the terrible Spanish Civil War inspired many of his compositions. During this time he also experimented with printmaking at S.W. Hayter’s Atelier 17 in Paris.

In the 1940s, as well as continuing his painting career (he illustrated Camus and Prévert’s works), Mayo created costumes and sets for theater and cinema with increasing success. After making the costumes for Marcel Carné’s masterpiece, Children of Paradise, he moved on to a series of no less famous films: Beauty and the Devil, Golden Helmet or The Land of the Pharaohs, an American epic directed by Howard Hawks. Later in his career Mayo became known for his work as a decorator and costume designer for masterpieces such as Les Enfants du Paradis, and Hiroshima Mon Amour.

Mayo continued to exhibit regularly in France, Switzerland and Italy, where he settled in 1960 until 1984 before returning to France. Suffering from a severe eye problems, he abandoned painting. In 1986 he was named a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters.

Antoine Malliarakis – Mayo, died on October 1, 1990 in Seine-Port, France.

Mayo is also the father of far right politician Jean-Gilles Malliarakis and great uncle of actor / comedian Matila Malliarakis.