American sculptor. He was born in St Nicholas in southern Greece, ‘up in the mountains and hard to locate exactly’, according to the artist. He moved with his family to New York in 1930. In the early 1960s, after working with different types of collage while earning his living in an advertising agency by daytime, he began making pillows on which buttons were sewn. On one of his pillows he used a neon tube spelling out ‘dream’. By 1965 neon became his only medium. The early examples had timers which switched them on and off, but Antonakos discovered that viewers would not stay to look long enough to follow the complete programme. Unlike Flavin's fluorescent components, they are not standardized items but custom-made for the artist. In work of the late 1990s onwards Antonakos has tended to use neon for its glow rather than as an object, placing it behind a painting. He has also designed a number of chapels.
I. Sandler, Stephen Antonakos (1999)