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From this April to October, the Prado Museum joins the commemoration of the four years of the death of El Greco with two successive exposures. The first entitled The library of the Greekshowing the theoretical roots of his painting. The second, El Greco and modern painting is generating considerable buzz, and will open the day 24 June next.

The chosen name suggests the influence that the work of El Greco painting on the back. Be twenty paintings by the artist which will face over seventy modern works. Including, works of Manet, Kokoschka, Jackson Pollock, Francis Bacon and of course Cézanne, Picasso, and Giacometti, inter alia.

In recent decades it has paid much attention to the artistic significance of El Greco showing the painter as one of the sources of the Central expressionism.

One of the first modern artists to appreciate its modern style was Van Gogh. This artist distorted reality and canon of figures seeking to convey emotions as did El Greco. “He did his work from elongated shapes and twisted, foreshortening impossible and unrealistic colors” said Keith Christiansen, Curator of European Paintings Department of Metropolitan New York. These words, although they could well serve to define the pictorial aesthetics of Van Gogh, they are referring to El Greco.

Edvard Munch doubted how to get in his paintings that emotional intensity proposed. Until his famous work The Scream, incorporated the way in which El Greco “sagged” the image to convey deeper exaltations. So Munch succeeded in capturing the anguish that caused his prophetic vision of the world and its existential despair.


The Scream – Edvard Munch

In the scenes of El Greco, Howling reason tends to be a more subtle way, but it is also an element that has great prominence in his work. So, in The Apocalypse of St. John, the figure of the Holy raising his arms and demanding justice plays a strong parallel with the work of Munch.

El Apocalipsis de San Juan

The Opening of the Fifth Seal of the Apocalypse – El Greco

Francis Bacon resembling El Greco in the variety of colors of his palette, finding great parallels in the work of the two authors.

Estudio De Cuerpo Humano

Study of the Human Body – Francis Bacon

San Judas Tadeo

St. Jude – El Greco

Picasso, was fascinated by The Opening of the Fifth Seal of the Apocalypse, which ultimately would have great influence on Picasso, Demoiselles d'Avignon. John Richardson, British art historian, asserts that the analysis of the famous painting initiator of Cubism ” offers most answers once we realize that we must, at least, both the El Greco as Cézanne”.

Picasso said of him that was “the only Venetian painter who performed his paintings cubist forms

Extremely elongated figures, with own lighting, You Thin, ghostly, very expressive and with a range of colors to finding contrasts.

753px-El_Greco_ (Domenikos_Theotokopoulos) _-_Laocoön_-_Google_Art_Project

Laocoonte – El Greco

It was the marienista style questioning the way forward in the arts after the perfection of Leonardo, Michelangelo and Bramante. How to innovate?… What direction to go?

Mannerism The term comes from the Italian word maniera, what does it mean “good style”. This term was constantly used by the biographer of artists Giorgio Vasari. Vasari used the word maniera for all, and especially to highlight the sophistication of the art of his time. Balance, Symmetry, and perfect anatomies. Later in the seventeenth century the term was used to differentiate the art approximate period between 1520 a 1600 any other artistic style. An art characterized by artificiality, distortion and exaggeration of bodies.

In 1577, El Greco comes to Toledo . In this city he found his true artistic personality to unleash what ultimately were his most interesting works. El Greco painted in Spain preferably religious themes, some mythological and portraits.

Felipe II commissioned The Martyrdom of St. Maurice for the Monastery of El Escorial. A work that was paid handsomely, but are banished from their original destination. Neither the painter liked the architecture of El Escorial, and the king liked the painting by El Greco.


The Martyrdom of St. Maurice – El Greco

He died in the place that came with 36 years and lived to 73, Toledo. The city in which a child had and which never stopped being a foreigner who did not speak Spanish. He was born in 1541 Candia, current Heraklion, Crete's capital at that time was under the dominion of Venice.

Against conventional wisdom, El Greco was not a mystic. “He justified his painting with arguments that have nothing to do with religion. Any author of that time spoke of religious painting in each paragraph, but El Greco has among more than 20.000 words of your notes one on religion”.

Frangento de El_Expolio de Cristo.  co_Catedral_de_Toledo_detalle1

Fragment Espolio of Christ – El Greco

Since his death, Each age has had eyes for El Greco. For and against. Hence the importance of a modern look for your real success. What horrified the eighteenth century classicists, dazzled his heirs romantic nineteenth, and the avant-garde of the twentieth.

La_crucifixión_ (El_Greco, _1597)

The Crucifixion – El Greco

Perhaps it was his work Laocoonte the greatest revelation to the Expressionists Central. “A box full of space (…) sole, unforgettable”, Rilke wrote, (one of the most important poets of world literature), after seeing the picture in Munich.

“As Velázquez is the reference for those painters who are directed toward naturalism (Courbet, Manet), El Greco it is for those seeking a transformation of painting (cubism, expressionism, surrealism)” says Javier Barón, head of nineteenth-century painting from the Prado.

Do not miss the exhibition “El Greco and modern painting” to be held from 14 and June 5 October 2014 in the Museo del Prado, Madrid.


To Learn More:

“El Greco and modern painting” – Museo del Prado, Madrid.

Why El Greco painted well:

Cover image: Laocoon – El Greco.
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