The year of “El Greco”

The Burial of the Count of Orgaz. 1586. Oil on canvas.

The Spanish city of Toledo is ready for being during this year the centre of attention because of  the commemoration of the 4th Centenary of the death of El Greco. Toledo is going to offer all kind of cultural activities related with this significant artist of the Spanish  Renaissance, from a huge diversity of exhibitions until shows specifically created for this occasion. Although Toledo is the city where El Greco created his more relevant works and the place where he died, his paintings are shared out all over the world. For example, in The Hispanic Society or in the Metropolitam Museum in United States, in the Louvre, in Italy and even in the far Japan. For these reasons, we can classify the Greco as one of the artists who enjoys a global widespread popularity.

But, who was El Greco and what was his repercussion in the Spanish Art? Domenikos Theotokopoulos was born in Crete and there he was trained as an icon painter. At the age of 26, he moved to Venice and started learning the perspective, figural construction and the ability to stage elaborated narratives characteristics from the Italian Renaissance. After soaking in the art of Tiziano and Tintoretto in Venice, he wanted to try his luck with one of the most important patrons in Rome, the Cardinal Alessandro Farnesse. Although he did some portraits and small-scale devotional paintings like “The Blind’s Healing” (1567) and even he opened a shop in order to try working on his own, all the efforts were not enough in order to get a rich clientele. The reasons of the failure are varied (his irritable pride or the Michaelangelo’s critiques) but the fact is that Domenikos decided to move to Spain where he finally found his goal.

In spite of everything, the beginnings were not easy and even he tried to work in the colossal decoration of the Escorial, he didn’t get it. He has received some orders from the city of Toledo and it was there where he found a big circle of intellectual friends and patrons and forged a highly profitable career. Here, he did some of his masterpieces more recognizable like “The Burial of Count Orgaz” (1586) or the “Espolio” (1579). El Greco created a new language in Toledo, a language that joined his byzantine origin, the italian knowledge and a his own new vision. The distorted perspective, his elongated figures and an strident use of colors reached its apogee with the “Laocoonte” (1610), one of his last works.

Laocoonte (detail). Oil on canvas.

Laocoonte (detail). Oil on canvas.

But the influence of El Greco didn’t stop in the XVII century, one of the exhibitions that has been programmed for this june at the National Museum of Prado will analyze the role of El Greco’s art during the XIX and XX century. “El Greco and the Modern Painting” will show us an itinerary that will prove the effect of El Greco on Cézanne or Manet, on the Picasso’s cubism or on the surrealism, as well as on the figuration of Giacometti or Bacon. Highly recommended!


Source | ElGreco2014  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

More info | El Prado  Tourism Portal of Spain  El País

Images | Web Gallery of Art

In QAH | El Greco: el griego de Toledo

Author Spotlight


Bachelor Degree in History of Art by University of Valencia (2009- 2013)

Team member of “Culture & Society” in the digital portal “We Learn Today” and also I write for “Cultura y Sociedad” in “Que Aprendemos Hoy” (spanish version).

Internship in BWA Awangarda Gallery of Wroclaw (Poland).

Personal Blog: http://artspresence.blogspot.com.es/ Read Full

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