Author: Michael Scholz-Hansel
Release Date: May 01, 2014
A prophet of modernism. Strong colours and sinuous figures
El Greco (1541-1614) was born Domenikos Theotokopoulos in Crete in 1541. He arrived in Venice in 1566, where his work was greatly influenced by Titian and Tintoretto. Later he made an offer to the Pope to paint over Michelangelo’s Last Judgement in the spirit of the Counter Reformation, which so incurred the wrath of Roman artists that a career in Italy was no longer conceivable.
El Greco then settled in Spain, in Toledo, where he received numerous commissions from the Church and the nobility. Between 1586 and 1588 he created a major work of European painting, the monumental Burial of the Count of Orgaz for a chapel altar in the parish church of Santo Tomé in Toledo. El Greco confined his range of colours to a small number of very expressively used shades, with an evident preference for pale purple, pink, and yellow and greyish tones. He located the iconographical events in a space that he dramatized by means of light and atmospheric phenomena. His œuvre had a wide-ranging impact on art up to and including modern 20th century painting. Paul Cézanne and later Picasso and the Expressionists regarded El Greco as a prophet of modernism.