19.3.13

The Story of Art: El Greco "The Greek"

The best time for your body to decide that it will have an allergic reaction to something is 4 am. That way, in case you had the slightest idea that your next day would be normal, it will have been properly ruined by exhaustion and dehydration.  There have been many artists that have since been discussed by Gombrich, & perhaps I'm dehydrating you of their existence, but for this small attempt at coherent thought I would like to write about El Greco. Unsurprisingly, after the genius painters of Italy, artists had a difficult time prioritizing mastering the skills that had already been conquered. Artists wanted to show many old legends and myths in a new light and, for the time, El Greco took this new light an ran with it.
Portait of a Cardinal

Boy Lighting a Candle

 The Opening of the Fifth Seal

"The passage is the one in the Revelation in which the Lamb summons St. John to 'Come and see' the opening of the seven seals. 'And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the Altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And the cried with a loud voice, saying "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on earth?" And white robes were given unto every one of them' (Rev. vi. 9-11). The nude figures, with their excited gestures, are therefor the martyrs who rise from their graves and call to Heaven for revenge, and stretch out their hands to receive the heavenly white robes. Surely no exact and accurate drawing could ever have expressed that terrible vision of doomsday, when the very saints call for the destruction of this world, with such an uncanny and convincing force."
This long but accurate quote is a perfect example of El Greco's relevance for this time period. El Greco created these very modern paintings that reflected a personal style that really enhanced the emotive qualities of the paintings. The slight disproportions, darkness of color and shape, and uncomfortable yet classic compositions allow his works to become incredibly haunting.  Gombrich tells a truth in stating that no accurate drawing could have expressed the terror of the scene so well. 

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