El Greco a biography of a great artist

Born: 1541, Heraklion, Greece

Died: April 7, 1614, Toledo, Spain

Full name: Doménikos Theotokópoulos

Known for: Painting, sculpture and architecture

Periods: Mannerism, Spanish Renaissance

El greco was religious so he made religious paintings and art

El greco early life

El Greco was born Domenikos Theotokopoulos on the island of Crete, which was at the time a Venetian possession. Around age 20, somewhere between 1560 and 1565, El Greco (which means “The Greek”) went to Venice to study and found himself under the tutelage of Titian, the greatest painter of the time. Under Titian, El Greco began mastering the fundamental aspects of Renaissance painting—e.g., perspective, constructing figures, and staging detailed narrative scenes (a prime example of his work from this period is The Miracle of Christ Healing the Blind).

El Greco moved to Rome from Venice after a time, remaining from 1570 to 1576, staying initially in the palace of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, one of the most influential and wealthy individuals in Rome. In 1572, El Greco joined the painters’ academy and established a studio, but success would prove elusive (El Greco had criticized Michelangelo’s artistic abilities, which likely led to him being ostracized by the Roman art establishment), and he left Rome for Spain in 1576.

El greco late life

El Greco’s later works are marked by exaggerated, and often distorted, figures, stretching beyond the realities of the human body (which is what modern viewers generally have found so appealing). Among them are The Adoration of the Shepherds (1599), Concert of Angels (1610), and The Opening of the Fifth Seal (completed in 1614). Fifth Seal in particular went on to spark great debate, as it has been suggested that it was an influence on Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, often considered the first cubist painting.

El Greco’s effect on Picasso’s evolution is just one thread of his influence. The twisting figures and brash, unreal colors that form the very foundation of El Greco’s art influenced scores of artists, from the cubists following Picasso to the German expressionists to the abstract impressionists after them. His work also inspired those outside the realm of painting, such as writers Rainer Maria Rilke and Nikos Kazantzakis. El Greco died on April 7, 1614, unappreciated in his time, with the art world waiting 250 years before embracing his status as a master.


Created with images by Sharon Mollerus - "El Greco, Portrait of a Man" • Sharon Mollerus - "El Greco, Christ Carrying the Cross, ca. 1580s"

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