Friday, March 18, 2016

Art FIFA 2016: El Greco

El Greco: An Artist's Odyssey
Film by David Hammer

United States | English | 2014 | 30 min


The film presents a life of El Greco and shows many of his painting. It discusses his artistic path and difficulties to secure a place with the art patrons of the time. Despite being only 30 minutes long, the film succeeds in drawing a compelling portrait of El Greco as a man and an artist with a very individual perception and sensibility of how to paint.

El Greco was born with a name Doménikos Theotokópoulos (1541 – 1614). He was a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. He is best known for his painting with elongated figures some of the in tortuous poses, as well as his specific coloration. El Greco is characterized by modern scholars as an artist so individual that he belongs to no conventional school or art movement.

His nickname "El Greco" refers both to his Greek origin and Spanish citizenship. However, he signed his panting with his full birth name in Greek letters, often adding the word "Cretan" since he was born in Crete, which was at the time part of the Republic of Venice.

At the age of 26, he travelled to Venice, which was then the center of Post-Byzantine art. In 1570 he moved to Rome, where he opened a workshop and painted a series of commissioned works. In 1577, he moved to ToledoSpain, where he lived and worked until his death, and produced his best-known paintings.

El Greco's unique dramatic style was not recognized by his contemporaries as of great value. After his death, he fell into an oblivion which lasted for over three centuries. He finally found appreciation in the 20th century, due to his expressionistic style. Now, he is regarded as a precursor of both Expressionism and Cubism. His personality and works were a source of inspiration for poets and writers, among them Rainer Maria Rilke and Nikos Kazantzakis.

Official Synopses:
“Bornin Crete, El Greco (1541-1614) began his career as a painter of icons for Byzantine churches. Moving to Italy and then to Spain, his work combined lessons learned from the glories of Byzantium with the ravishing colour of Venetian art and the elegant artificialities of Roman mannerism. In Toledo, he created a series of works in a visionary style charged with emotion and drama. Although his work puzzled many contemporaries, later artists such as Picasso considered him a prophet of modernism. This film coincided with the exhibition El Greco in the National Gallery of Art and Washington-Area Collections: A 400th Anniversary Celebration.”

David Hammer

Born in Washington, David Hammer received an M.A. in directing from Columbia University in New York. He has worked in film and television for more than 20 years. In 2010, he joined the production unit of the National Gallery of Art.

Filmography | First Movie (1993) ; Becky and Pete (1999) ; Three-Quarters of the World (1999) ; Magic and Loss (2002) ; Pigeon Cove (2003) ; To Remember Him (2005) ; George Bellows (2012), 31e FIFA.

Production Team:

Screenplay Carroll Moore
Cinematography Patrick Duval, Richard Numeroff
Editing Barbara Burst
Narration Adrien Brody
Artists El Greco
Producer Carroll Moore, Susan Arensberg
Production National Gallery of Art
Distribution National Gallery of Art

For more information and film scheduling, visit the Art FIFA website.


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