Born in 1938 in Istambul (Türkiye)
Sarkis studied French, painting and interior architecture before moving to Paris in 1964. In 1967, he won the painting prize at the Paris Biennale. That same year, at the Salon de Mai, Sarkis presented Connaissez-vous Joseph Beuys, a reference to the German artist he considered to be the most important of his time. In 1969, he was invited by the critic Harald Szeemann to take part in the now famous exhibition When Attitudes Become Forms at the Kunsthalle in Bern. The transmission and teaching of art are also at the heart of his preoccupations. From 1980 to 1990, he was head of the art department at the École des arts décoratifs in Strasbourg, and from 1988 to 1995, he was director of the seminar at the Institut des hautes études en arts plastiques created by Pontus Hulten. He has taken part in major exhibitions such as Documentas VI and VII (Germany), and the Biennales of Venice (Italy), Sydney (Australia), Shanghai (China), São Paulo (Brazil), Moscow (Russia) and Istanbul (Turkey). In 2015 he represented the Turkish Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, and that same year took part in the Republic of Armenia exhibition, which won the Golden Lion.
Sarkis' work has been the subject of a number of major solo and group exhibitions, including Ex Africa at the Musée du Quai Branly in 2021, curated by Philippe Dagen, at the Chapelle de la Visitation (Thonon-les-Bains) in 2019, at the Musée de Fécamp (Fécamp), at the Couvent des Cordeliers (Toulouse) in 2018 and at the Petit Palais (Paris) in 2016. In 2015, he had a solo exhibition at the Boghossian Foundation in Brussels, and exhibited the same year at the MAXXI in Rome. In 2013, Sarkis took part in When attitudes become form, Bern 1969/Venice 2013 for the 55th Venice Biennale at the Prada Foundation, presented Passages Croisés en or at the Château d'Angers, was invited to present Frise de Guerre at MONA - Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania and took part in Ici, Ailleurs for Marseille - Provence, Capitale Européenne de la Culture, as well as in the exhibition Modernity? Perspectives from France and Turkey, at Istanbul Modern. Invited by the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam in 2012, he presented Ballads in the 5,000 m2 Submarine Wharf and exhibited the same year at the Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire, following a commission from the Centre region, as well as at the Intense Proximity Triennial at the Palais de Tokyo. In 2011, he exhibited at MAMCO (Geneva) with a major retrospective entitled Hôtel Sarkis. This presentation on four floors brought together 200 pieces dated from 1971 to 2011 and showed the artist's different practices, multiplying the resonance of a work created in relation to other creators. In 2010, Sarkis presented a Passages at the Center Pompidou (Paris) where Sarkis' creations enter into conversation with the works of Kasimir Malevitch, the wall of André Breton's studio or Plight by Joseph Beuys, one of the tutelary figures of Sarkis with the filmmaker Andreï Tarkovsky, whose artist reinvests a film in Brancusi's workshop. These works, which summon the KRIEGSSCHATZ (war treasure) of the artist, are composed of found objects, works of art or ethnographic objects, from different civilizations. In 2007, he was present at the Bourdelle Museum, the Louvre Museum and the Maison Rouge (Paris), at the Picasso Museum (Paris) in 2003, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lyon, at the Museum of Modern Art in Céret, at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 2002, at the CAPC in Bordeaux in 2000 and 1976, at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Strasbourg in 1998 and 1988, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Nantes in 1997, at the Magasin de Grenoble in 1991, at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Limoges in 1986, at the Nouveau Musée de Villeurbanne in 1985, at the ARC - Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1984, at the Musée d Art and Industry of Saint-Étienne in 1974, at the Galliera Museum (Paris) in 1973, the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris in 1970 with Christian Boltanski.