El Greco's art celebrated in the US
The master of Spanish renaissance art Domenikos Theotokopoulos, better known as El Greco – The Greek – is being honoured in the US, 400 years after he passed away.
Most notable of all are New York’s The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art and Washington DC’s National Gallery of Art, which have both just launched new shows commemorating the artist’s lasting influence on art.
The Met’s exhibition, entitled El Greco in New York, is a collaborative effort between the museum and the Hispanic Society of America. This rare combined collection, totalling 16 paintings, delivers a presentation that is something of a ‘mini-retrospective’.
Some of the works on show include The Miracle of Christ Healing the Blind; Christ Carrying the Cross; The View of Toledo; Portrait of a Man; Saint Jerome as a Cardinal; The Adoration of the Shepherds; The Vision of Saint John; and The Holy Family.
El Greco is well-known and well-liked in the US, the reason for this unclear. What is certain, says David Alan Brown, curator of the exhibition, is that during the twentieth century, there was a buying frenzy among American collectors for his work.
“They competed with each other, all these millionaires,” he said in an interview with the AFP. “There was a kind of Greco craze. That is one reason why they are so many Grecos in the United States.”
Meanwhile, at the National Gallery of Art, visitors can experience the El Greco in the National Gallery of Art and Washington-Area Collections: A 400th Anniversary Celebration.
A relatively self-explanatory survey, it is, like The Met’s show, another joint enterprise, with paintings loaned by Dumbarton Oaks, the Phillips Collection and the Walters Art Museum joining those in owned by the gallery.
On display will be Christ Cleansing the Temple, Saint Martin and the Beggar, Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata, the Holy Family with Saint Anne and the Infant John the Baptist, the Repentant Saint Peter, Saint Ildefonso, The Visitation, Saint Jerome and Laocoon.
“This exhibition showcases the artist’s groundbreaking style of painting that fused elements of byzantine and renaissance art with the heightened spirituality of the counter-reformation,” explained Earl A. Powell III, director of the National Gallery of Art, Washington.
El Greco’s fame as an artist was lost after his death in 1614, something that was a consequence of his anachronism – his style was far too avant-garde for the establishment of the time. It was also seen as being anomalous to baroque aesthetics, which would come to dominate the seventeenth century.
“His work was so extreme that some people did not respond to it, and other people responded strongly,” Mr Brown told the news provider.
“He’s an artist that always provokes strong reactions. No one can be indifferent to El Greco. It’s a very personal, visionary style – El Greco’s art was never simple; it has the spiritual intensity of the counter-reformation but also pictorially a very complicated vision. That’s what appeals to us today.”
Cadogan Tate can store and ship works of art to and from New York.