Yannis Tsarouchis studied Fine Arts at the National Technical University of Athens (1928-1933). Even as his teachers Constantinos Parthenis, Spyros Vikelas, and Dimitrios Biskinis introduced him to Western art, Fotis Kontoglou, whose workshop Tsarouchis frequented between 1930-1934, introduced him to Byzantine art. It was about this time that Tsarouchis met influential individuals such as Eva Sikelianos and the Karaghiozis shadow puppeteer Sotiris Spatharis. Karolos Koun and Tsarouchis joined in founding the Greek Popular Theater in 1934.
His first trip to Paris brought him not only in direct contact with the masterpieces of the Western Renaissance, but also with the work of modern masters such as Henri Matisse and Alberto Giacometti. The ironic highlight of Tsarouchis' Paris experience is that it was there the art collector Efstratios Eleftheridis, known as Teriade (1897-1983), introduced him to the work of the primitive Lesbian painter Theofilos Hadjimichail (1873-1934).
Some of the most representative works of Tsarouchis, his nudes and portraits in particular, embody elements from the cardboard figures of the Karaghiozis theatre, Theophilos, and the Byzantines. The tendency to experiment with the great traditions of the East and the West, with academic as well as with folk arts, never left him.
Tsarouchis' prolific output found enthusiastic commentators and supporters from his earliest personal exhibition in 1938 to the 1981 grand retrospective at the Macedonian Center of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki. He had exhibtions in Paris (1951 and 1980), London (1951), New York (1956), the Venice Biennial (1958), Rome (1974), and Bologna (1974), to mention but a few.