On the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the death of Doménikos Theotokopoulos, known as El Greco (1541-1614), the cities of Madrid and Toledo have declared 2014 as the year of the illustrious painter. The tribute to the life and work of this artist crosses boundaries and reaches the United States with two exhibitions: El Greco in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) from the 4th of November 2014 to the 1st of February 2015; and El Greco: A 400th Anniversary Celebration from Washington Area Collections at the National Gallery of Art from the 2nd of November 2014 until the 16th of February 2015.
El Greco, View of Toledo.
The elongated figures he painted and the haunting intensity of their expressions characterize the work of this painter from the late Renaissance, who, with his peculiar style, greatly influenced artists from the 19th and 20th centuries. El Greco and his art remained forgotten for almost 300 years, until the 1800s, when they were recognized as a treasure whose value and beauty are still highly appreciated today.
The exhibition El Greco in New York at the MET, featuring works from the museum’s permanent collection, along with others from the Hispanic Society of America, provides the public with an overview of the artist, while attempting to highlight the attention American collectors have placed on the Greek-Spanish master. As part of the exhibition program, on the 13th and 20th of November, the MET will offer the conference El Greco: Spirit and Paradox, which will explore the artist as a precursor of Modernism, his failed attempt at success in Italy and his impact on Spain. As a parallel activity, on December 12th there will be a concert by the Valencian group Capella de Ministrers with music from the artist´s native Greece, as well as from his sojourn through Venice and Rome, concluding with pieces from the Spanish city of Toledo.
El Greco, Laocoön.
Meanwhile, the commemorative exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, which is home to largest collection of works by El Greco in the United States, will include his early work The Purification of the Temple and his mythological work, Laocoon, plus 11 other paintings from the gallery and other collections from the Washington area. There will also be a selection of his works that illustrate the role of El Greco as an artist of the counter-reformation, as well as two versions of the masterpiece St. Martin and the Beggar. This exhibition attests to the importance of the oeuvre of the famous painter for American collectors of the last century, including Henry Walters, Mildred and Robert Bliss and Duncan Phillips, as well as for the benefactors and founders of the Gallery, such as Andrew W. Mellon, Samuel H. Kress, Peter A. B. Widener, Joseph E. Widener and Chester Dale.
Four hundred years after the death of the great artist his work and his persona are cause for celebration, and this is the best opportunity to admire his art ■