The year 2014 has been designated Year of El Greco, and several Spanish cities, especially Toledo, will pay tribute to the life and work of an artist neglected for three centuries until his rediscovered in the 19th century. Born in Crete in 1541, when the current Greek island was part of the Venetian Republic, El Greco lived in Italy for several years and later moved to Toledo where he resided until his death in 1614.
The Prado’s Chairman of Trustees, José Pedro Pérez-Llorca, stressed that although El Greco is closely linked to the city of Toledo, the Prado Museum “is also his home” and the artist “is part of the museum’s genetic code since its inception.”
This painter of the late Renaissance had a significant impact on the development of painting in the 19th and 20th centuries. The exhibition El Greco y la pintura moderna elucidates his momentous influence in artists such as Manet, Cézanne and other Spanish painters of the last third of the 19th century. A section of the show explores his influence on Picasso and cubism, before moving to his relationship with Central European expressionists, including Kokoschka and Beckmann, as well as his impact on surrealism.
El Greco also influenced American artists such as Orozco, Matta and Pollock, a fact that can be seen throughout the exhibit. Finally, the public is able to appreciate his resonance in the work of Bacon, Giacometti and Saura. Also on view at the Prado, the exhibition La Biblioteca del Greco (El Greco’s Library) will bring about 130 books from the artist’s library, many of which were part of his cultural and literary background. The most important exhibitions in Spain in 2014.
There are two other exhibits of the Greek master in the city of Toledo— rather oddly, that city had never before held an exhibition of El Greco. The most important, The Greek from Toledo, is on display through June 14 at Espacios Greco and Santa Cruz Museum. It is the largest exhibition of the artist’s work in Spain, after the Prado’s iconic 1902 show. Among the pieces on view: The Architect Andrea Palladio, View of Toledo, St. Martin and the Beggar, The Informant, The Coronation of the Virgin and The Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest. ■