Nassos Daphnis, 96, a Greek American artist who deployed brilliantly colored geometric forms to create nervous, dynamic paintings on a heroic scale, died Nov. 23 of Alzheimer's disease in Provincetown, Mass. He lived in New York.
Mr. Daphnis, a florist by early training and a renowned cultivator of hybrid tree peonies, drew on his sensitivity to color and keen understanding of nature's geometry to develop a precise, hard-edged painting style that harked back to Mondrian and looked forward to minimalism.
His work was ignored until Leo Castelli gave him a one-man show in 1959 that established him as a leading exponent of geometric abstraction. In the mid-1960s, Mr. Daphnis embraced curves and spheres, whose possibilities he exploited with unflagging invention.
He enjoyed equal fame in the gardening world. His involvement in horticulture began in the late 1930s when William Gratwick, a breeder of hybridized tree peonies, bought one of his first paintings.
Mr. Daphnis soon became a partner in developing new crossbreeds, which he named after artists or characters from Greek mythology. His work yielded some of the most esteemed varieties grown today, including Hephestos, Nike, Pluto, and Gauguin.
- N.Y. Times News Service