Helena Smith “Four hundred years after his death, Greece reclaims the artist El Greco” http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/nov/26/domenikos-theotokopoulos-el-greco-spain-crete-exhibitions
El Greco may have left Crete, never to return, in his early 20s, but 400 years after his death, as museums the world over celebrate the man whose works were widely seen as the precursor of modern art, Greece – and his island birthplace – are feting him most.
“The Greeks have been keen to recognise his Greekness,” said Richard Kagan*2, emeritus professor of history at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, who has helped curate one of a number of El Greco exhibitions.
“But, in truth, he never lost his Greek identity. Until his death [in 1614] he was a stranger in a foreign land and he always signed his works as Doménikos Theotokópoulos,” he said from Philadelphia. “He was aware and proud of his Greekness.”
Few masters have gone in and out of fashion as much as El Greco who, after studying iconography in Crete, moved to Venice then Rome before establishing himself in Toledo, Spain. Embraced by the great painters of the High Renaissance, he was dumped by their Baroque successors, his style subsequently decried during the Age of Enlightenment as overly dramatic and unnatural. “He neither had followers nor supporters in the 17th and 18th centuries when critics regarded him as an oddball, a man apart,” said Kagan, an authority on the painter’s Spanish period. “His work was viewed as capricious, extravagant even.”
But now the painter is being hailed as the rule-breaker par excellence. From Buenos Aires to Madrid, Washington to Warsaw, exhibitions this year have honoured the man who produced a style so modern it would be taken up by the expressionists*3and the likes of Pablo Picasso*4 at the turn of the 20th century. In Toledo, his adopted home town, the largest ever exhibition of his oeuvre took place this year.
For a long time, the extent of El Greco’s links to Greece were little known, despite his nickname meaning “the Greek” in Spanish. Just as the artist defied categorisation – viewed as so idiosyncratic he belonged to no conventional school – traces of his life on Crete also seemed invisible.
In sharp contrast to Toledo, where scholars have discovered his social circle included Greeks – with some serving as witnesses in the headstrong painter’s many lawsuits with clients – it was not until 50 years ago that his apprenticeship in a workshop on Crete came to light. The island, then a possession of the republic of Venice, was the seat of iconographers trained in the Byzantine tradition.
“Until 1960, when documents were discovered, we didn’t know anything about his presence on Crete,” said Nicos Hadjinicolaou*5, Greece’s pre-eminent authority on the artist.
He added that it wasn’t until 1982, when two books were found – one in a bookshop and another in the national library – that scholars had any idea of his personal opinions about art and architecture, which were scribbled on art and architecture.
The marginalia debunked the myth that the painter was religious, inspired by Spanish mysticism to draw serpentine figures in other worldly light. “The discoveries were the beginnings of this new burst of current interest in El Greco,” said Kagan.
“They led to new interpretations about a man who clearly fashioned himself as an artist philosopher and who, arguably, was Greece’s most famous artist after Phidias.”
*1:See eg. Keith Christiansen”El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) (1541–1614)” http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/grec/hd_grec.htm “El Greco Biography: Painter, Sculptor, Architect (c. 1541–1614)” http://www.biography.com/people/el-greco-9319123 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Greco http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%82%A8%E3%83%AB%E3%83%BB%E3%82%B0%E3%83%AC%E3%82%B3
*3:表現主義については、 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20060501/1146508243 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20060811/1155271128 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20060827/1156655371 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20070201/1170333898 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20080102/1199294584 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20080319/1205899789 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20080623/1214195486 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20081110/1226281445 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20090427/1240798159 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20101201/1291217397 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110128/1296239059 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110314/1300124753 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110428/1303962742 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110518/1305732275 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110615/1308109789 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110724/1311516630 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110915/1316062471 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20130413/1365813927 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20141027/1414384019で言及している。
*4:See also http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20070606/1181155325 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20070828/1188314733 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20080104/1199468688 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20080605/1212635910 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20090315/1237087906 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20090803/1249228693 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20091006/1254852110 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20100519/1274234037 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20100608/1276018679 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110119/1295413610 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110819/1313723049 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110821/1313854761 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20131005/1380938837 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20141109/1415501003 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20141110/1415586266 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20141125/1416841903
*5:See eg. “Hadjinicolaou, Nicos” https://dictionaryofarthistorians.org/hadjinicolaoun.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikos_Hadjinikolaou