Modern Greek art

Modern Greek art is art from the period between the emergence of the new independent Greek state and the 20th century. As Mainland Greece was under Ottoman rule for all four centuries, it was not a part of the Renaissance and artistic movements that followed in Western Europe. However, Greek islands such as Crete, and the Ionian islands in particular were for large periods under Venetian or other European powers' rule and thus were able to better assimilate the radical artistic changes that were occurring in Europe during the 14th-18th century. The Cretan School and in particular the Heptanese School of art are two typical examples of artistic movements in Greece that followed parallel routes to Western Europe.[1] As such, there were different artistic trends in the emerging Greek society. Modern Greek art can be said to have been predominantly shaped by the particular socioeconomic conditions of Greece, the large Greek diaspora across Europe, and the new Greek social elite, as well as external artistic influences, predominantly from Germany and France.

Sculpture and painting

19th century

The School of Munich

Nikolaos Gyzis - Historia
Ηistoria (Allegory of History) by Nikolaos Gyzis (1892).
George Iakovidis - Children's Concert
Georgios Jakobides, Children's Concert.

Modern Greek art began to be developed around the time of Romanticism. Greek artists absorbed many elements from their European colleagues, resulting in the culmination of the distinctive style of Greek Romantic art, inspired by revolutionary ideals as well as the country's geography and history. After centuries of Ottoman rule, few opportunities for an education in the arts existed in the newly independent Greece, so studying abroad was imperative for artists. Munich, as an important international center for the arts at that time, was the place where the majority of the Greek artists of the 19th century chose to study. Later on, they would return to Greece and pass on their knowledge. Some of them remained in Munich, the so-called Athens on the Isar. Both academic and personal bonds developed between early Greek painters and Munich artistry giving birth to the Greek "Munich School" of painting. Nikolaos Gysis was an important teacher and artist at the Munich Academy and he soon became a leading figure among Greek artists. Academism, realism, genre painting, upper middle class portraiture, still life and landscape painting, often representing impressionist features, will be replaced in the end of the 19th century by Symbolism, Jugendstil, Art Nouveau, which are mainly traced in the work of Nikolaos Gysis, Aristeas and others.[2] Early-20th-century modernism is also represented by significant Greek artists in Munich. Many of these Munich School artists chose subjects such as everyday Greek life, local customs, and living conditions. Several important painters emerged at this time. Theodoros Vryzakis specialized in historical painting and especially inspired by the 1821 Greek War of Independence. Nikiphoros Lytras concentrated on realistic depictions of Greek life. Georgios Jakobides devoted his attention to infants and children and he would later become the first Director of the new National Gallery of Athens. Georgios Roilos was another leading painter of the period closely associated with the Munich School, especially in his early career. Konstantinos Volanakis was inspired mostly by the Greek sea.[3]

Other artists associated with the School of Munich were Symeon Sabbides, Yannoulis Chalepas, Leonidas Drosis, as well as quite a few modernist artists who studied in Munich, which included Theofrastos Triantafyllidis, Jorgos Busianis, and also Giorgio de Chirico.[2]

Notable sculptors of the new Greek Kingdom were Leonidas Drosis (his major work was the extensive neo-classical architectural ornament at the Academy of Athens), Lazaros Sochos, Georgios Vitalis, Dimitrios Filippotis, Ioannis Kossos, Yannoulis Chalepas, Georgios Bonanos and Lazaros Fytalis.

The School of Paris

PericlèsPantazis.Lady knitting
Lady knitting by Périclès Pantazis.

A few Greek painters studied in Paris. Despite residing in the French capital and following the guidelines of the French Art Academy, they invariably had their own interpretations. Jacob Rizos was involved with the rendering of female grace, Theodoros Rallis with scenes from the Orthodox East and Nikolaos Xydias Typaldos with portraiture, still life and genre painting. During this period in Paris the avant-garde Impressionist movement developed, but most Greek painters remained faithful to the precepts of their teachers with only some nebulous thrusts in the direction of this movement. The first Greek impressionist was Périclès Pantazis who, after Paris, settled in Belgium and became a part of the avant-garde group Circle de la pâte.

Themes-artistic depictions

Many Greek artists of this period also drew upon El Greco's style for inspiration, particularly when creating art based on religious themes. This tied in with the idea of modern secular Greek art of the period referencing more classical styles, while religious art referenced Byzantine, or Byzantine inspired art. Moreover, an important and often pioneering role was played by artists from Ionian islands in the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, who exploited conquests of the Italian Renaissance and baroque ateliers. As efforts persisted with new directions and objectives, Greek artists emerging in the world during the first decades of the 19th century reconnected Greek art with its ancient tradition, as well as with the quests of the European ateliers, especially those of the Munich School, with defining examples of the Greek contemporary art of the period including the works of Theodoros Vryzakis and Nikiphoros Lytras.

20th century

At the beginning of the 20th century landscape painting held sway and the interest of painters turned toward the study of light and color.[3] The dependence of Munich slackened and Paris became the pole of attraction for the artists of the period. In the early 20th century Demetrios Galanis, a contemporary and friend of Picasso, achieved wide recognition in France and lifelong membership of the Académie française following his acclaim by the critic Andre Malreaux as an artist capable "of stirring emotions as powerful as those of Giotto". Later in the century Nikos Engonopoulos achieved international recognition with his surrealist conceptions both of painting and poetry, while in the late 1960s Dimitris Mytaras and Yiannis Psychopedis became associated with European critical realism. Impressionism was the original influence on the leading figures of the art of the first half of the 20th century, Konstantinos Parthenis and Konstantinos Maleas, while Nikiphoros Lytras associated himself with the avant-garde groups of Munich constituting the last known link with the series of painters in the great tradition of Munich in Greek art . The further development of these painters led to other roads, but always within the framework of the avantgarde movement albeit with a Greek dimension.

Gradually the impressionists and other modern schools increased their influence. In the early 20th century Greek artists turned from Munich to Paris. The interest of Greek painters, artists changes from historical representations to Greek landscapes with an emphasis on light and colours so abundant in Greece. Representatives of this artistic change are Konstantinos Parthenis, Konstantinos Maleas, Nikiphoros Lytras and Georgios Bouzianis. Konstantinos Parthenis, in particular, introduces historical, religious and mythological elements that allow the classification of Greek painting into modern art. The same is true with the landscapes of Konstantinos Maleas and the expressionism of Georgios Bouzianis. The period of the 1930s was a landmark for the Greek painters, with Yiannis Tsarouchis, Yiannis Moralis, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas, Spyros Vassiliou, Alekos Kontopoulos (introduced abstraction in Greek paintings) and Spyros Papaloukas coming into the limelight of Greek Art. These painters tried mainly to link leading European trends with Greek tradition.[4]

Notable 20th- and 21st-century artists

The second half of the 20th century has seen many widely acclaimed Greek artists such as Constantine Andreou, recipient of the French Légion d'honneur, Thodoros Papadimitriou, an internationally acclaimed sculptor. Giorgio de Chirico was an influential pre-Surrealist Greek-Italian painter that founded Metaphysical art. Jannis Kounellis ranks among the pioneers of the Arte Povera artistic movement. Electros aka B. Vekris Kinetic artist and Sculptor, Most well-known Artist working with light, Sound and Motion. Theodoros Stamos was a renowned abstract exessionism painter. Takis, Chryssa and Constantin Xenakis are internationally acclaimed artists of Kinetic sculpture. Other notable Greek artists are Hermon di Giovanno, Varotsos, Dimitris Mytaras, Alekos Fassianos, Theocharis Mores, Dimitris Koukos (1948-), Nikos Stratakis, Steven Antonakos, Kostas Tsoklis, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas, Thanassis Stephopoulos, Aggelika Korovessi, and Yiannis Melanitis.[5]


Volanakis 001

Konstantinos Volanakis, Anchored boats.

Port of Copenhagen by Ioannis Altamouras

Ioannis Altamouras, The port of Copenhagen.

Grandma's Favorite

Grandma's Favorite by Georgios Jakobides.

Gysis Nikolaos Capuchin

Capuchin monk by Nikolaos Gyzis.

Theofilos Eudoxia

Theofilos Hatzimichail, Symposium of Empress Eudoxia.

The sortie of Messologhi by Theodore Vryzakis

Theodoros Vryzakis, The sortie of Messologhi.

Socrates by Leonidas Drosis, Athens - Academy of Athens

Statue of Socrates by Leonidas Drosis.

Théodore Jacques Ralli Eavesdropping 1880

Theodore Ralli, Eavesdropping.

Lytras nikiforos antigone polynices.jpeg

Nikiphoros Lytras, Antigone in front of the dead Polynices.

Lytras Nikolaos 001.jpeg

Nikolaos Lytras, The straw-hat.

George Zongolopoulos in Thessaloniki

The "umbrellas" of Zongolopoulos in Thessaloniki.

EO Antirriou Iteas, Dorida 330 58, Greece - panoramio

Monument in Distomo for the Distomo massacre by Aggelika Korovessi.

See also


  1. ^ Nano Chatzidakis, in From Byzantium to El Greco, p.49, Athens 1987, Byzantine Museum of Arts
  2. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-08-05. Retrieved 2007-07-29.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2007-02-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Modern and Contemporary Art in Greece (1984), Hans-Jörg Heusser AICARC Center, Zürich
  5. ^ Greek Horizons: Contemporary Art from Greece (1998), Efi Strousa, Roger Wollen, Tullie House Museum, Art Gallery Carlise, England

External links

Ancient Greek sculpture

Ancient Greek sculpture is the sculpture of ancient Greece. Modern scholarship identifies three major stages in monumental sculpture. At all periods there were great numbers of Greek terracotta figurines and small sculptures in metal and other materials.

The Greeks decided very early on that the human form was the most important subject for artistic endeavour. Seeing their gods as having human form, there was little distinction between the sacred and the secular in art—the human body was both secular and sacred. A male nude of Apollo or Heracles had only slight differences in treatment to one of that year's Olympic boxing champion. The statue, originally single but by the Hellenistic period often in groups was the dominant form, though reliefs, often so "high" that they were almost free-standing, were also important.

Art Gallery of the Society for Macedonian Studies

Founded in 1975, the Art Gallery of the Society for Macedonian Studies is a museum in Thessaloniki, Greece. It was the first organised visual art institution in the city of Thessaloniki, its purpose being to promote and disseminate modern Greek art, mainly that of northern Greece. It occupies the top floor of the building that also houses the State Theatre of Northern Greece. The building was designed by the architect Vassilis Kassandras and stands directly opposite the White Tower on the sea-front.

The collection comprises more than 400 works, mainly paintings, sculptures and engravings, mostly by artists from Thessaloniki and Macedonia in general, though there are also works by major artists from the rest of Greece and other countries. Works by foreign artists are selected by virtue of their connection with the city, i.e. they depict monuments or landscapes of Thessaloniki. Most of the artwork has been donated, some purchased, and at one time quite a number of works were bequeathed to the gallery. Early in 1999, it was augmented by works from the Papanakos Collection.

There is space to display only 150 works, yet the exhibition presents an entirely satisfactory picture of the basic orientations of visual expression in northern Greece, as also of the development of modern Greek art since 1850. A sample of the artists includes Tassos Kyriazopoulos, Spyros Vassiliou, Thalia Flora-Karavia, Nikos Sachinis, Émile Gerlach, Yorgos Apotsos, Kostas Karanos, Anna Christoforidou, Kyriakos Kabadakis, and Apostolos Kilessopoulos.

The gallery extends its interest to organizing solo and group periodic exhibitions to promote contemporary art.

Athens School of Fine Arts

The Athens School of Fine Arts (ASFA; Greek: Ανωτάτη Σχολή Καλών Τεχνών, ΑΣΚΤ, literally: Highest School of Fine Arts), is Greece's premier Art school whose main objective is to develop the artistic talents of its students.

Contemporary Greek art

Contemporary Greek Art is defined as the art produced by Greek artists after World War II.

Cretan School

Cretan School describes an important school of icon painting, under the umbrella of post-Byzantine art, which flourished while Crete was under Venetian rule during the late Middle Ages, reaching its climax after the Fall of Constantinople, becoming the central force in Greek painting during the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. The Cretan artists developed a particular style of painting under the influence of both Eastern and Western artistic traditions and movements; the most famous product of the school, El Greco, was the most successful of the many artists who tried to build a career in Western Europe, and also the one who left the Byzantine style farthest behind him in his later career.

Emfietzoglou Gallery Museum

The Emfietzoglou Gallery Museum is an art gallery in Athens, Greece. It is sited in Marousi near the metro station. Its founder Prodromos Emfietzoglou gave his private art collection of over 500 works to the public.

These days the Emphietsoglou gallery offers a review of 750 works of modern Greek art including some of the best paintings from the last 200 years.

Greek academic art of the 19th century

The most important artistic movement of Greek art in the 19th century was academic realism, often called in Greece "the Munich School" (Greek: Σχολή του Μονάχου) because of the strong influence from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Munich (German: Münchner Akademie der Bildenden Künste), where many Greek artists trained. The Munich School painted the same sort of scenes in the same sort of style as Western European academic painters in several countries, and did generally not attempt to incorporate Byzantine stylistic elements into their work.

Greek art

Greek art began in the Cycladic and Minoan civilization, and gave birth to Western classical art in the subsequent Geometric, Archaic and Classical periods (with further developments during the Hellenistic Period). It absorbed influences of Eastern civilizations, of Roman art and its patrons, and the new religion of Orthodox Christianity in the Byzantine era and absorbed Italian and European ideas during the period of Romanticism (with the invigoration of the Greek Revolution), until the Modernist and Postmodernist.

Greek art is mainly five forms: architecture, sculpture, painting, pottery and jewelry making.

Heptanese School (painting)

The Heptanese School of painting (Greek: Επτανησιακή Σχολή, literally: "The School of the Seven Islands", also known as the Ionian Islands' School) succeeded the Cretan School as the leading school of Greek post-Byzantine painting after Crete fell to the Ottomans in 1669. Like the Cretan school it combined Byzantine traditions with an increasing Western European artistic influence, and also saw the first significant depiction of secular subjects. The school was based in the Ionian Islands, which were not part of Ottoman Greece, from the middle of the 17th century until the middle of the 19th century.

Macedonian art (Byzantine)

Macedonian art is the art of the Macedonian Renaissance in Byzantine art. The period followed the end of the Byzantine iconoclasm and lasted until the fall of the Macedonian dynasty, which ruled the Byzantine Empire from 867 to 1056, having originated in Macedonia in the Balkans. It coincided with the Ottonian Renaissance in Western Europe. In the 9th and 10th centuries, the Byzantine Empire's military situation improved, and art and architecture revived.

Melina Mercouri

Maria Amalia "Melina" Mercouri (Greek: Μαρία Αμαλία "Μελίνα" Μερκούρη; 18 October 1920 – 6 March 1994) was a Greek actress, singer, and politician. She received an Oscar nomination and won a Cannes Film Festival Award for her performance in the 1960 film Never on Sunday. Mercouri was also nominated for three Golden Globes and two BAFTA Awards in her acting career.

As a politician, she was a member of the PASOK and the Hellenic Parliament. In October 1981, Mercouri became the first female Minister of Culture and Sports.

Municipal Art Gallery (Thessaloniki)

The Municipal Art Gallery of the Municipality of Thessaloniki in Central Macedonia, Greece was founded in 1966 as an offshoot of the Municipal Library. Since 1986 it has been housed in the Villa Mordoch on Vassilissis Olgas Avenue, a mansion designed by the architect Xenophon Paionidis in the eclectic style in 1905 and owned by the Municipality of Thessaloniki. Since 2013 it is housed in Villa Bianca, also on Vassilissis Olgas Avenue. It also uses the Makridis Room near the Posidonio sports centre on the sea front and the old Archaeological Museum (Yeni Cami) as permanent exhibition spaces.

The gallery has more than 1,000 works in its collection, and these are divided into the Thessalonian Artists Collection (3 generations: 1898–1922, 1923–40, 1941–67), the Modern Greek Engraving Collection, the Collection of Byzantine and Postbyzantine Icons, which covers a period of six centuries, the Modern Greek Art Collection, and the Sculpture Collection.

The gallery organises regular (mainly retrospective) exhibitions of Greek artists, produces numerous publications, has a specialised library-cum-reading-room, and offers guided tours for the public (booked in advance). Since 1986 it has held 55 exhibitions of Greek and foreign artists. One of its aims is to jointly organise exhibitions with major visual arts institutions in Greece and abroad. Thus it has presented such artists as Max Ernst and Nikos Engonopoulos (in 1997), Theofilos Hatzimichail (in 1998), and, for the first time in Greece, the works of Nikolaos Gyzis owned by his family (in late 1999). The latter include drawings and oil paintings from Gyzis’’s travels in Greece, Asia Minor, and Germany, family portraits and scenes, allegorical subjects, genre paintings, and still lives.

The immediate aims of the Municipal Gallery include converting the second and third floors of the Villa Bianca into permanent exhibition spaces for works by Thessalonian artists and its collection of Byzantine icons.

Municipal Art Gallery of Ioannina

The Municipal Art Gallery of Ioannina (Greek: Δημοτική Πινακοθήκη Ιωαννίνων) is an art museum in Ioannina, Greece that has been open in its current building since 2000. The collection of over 500 items ranges from classical to modern paintings and sculptures.

Outline of Greece

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Greece:

Greece – sovereign country located on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula in Southern Europe. Greece borders Albania, Bulgaria, and North Macedonia to the north, and Turkey to the east. The Aegean Sea lies to the east and south of mainland Greece, while the Ionian Sea lies to the west. Both parts of the Eastern Mediterranean basin feature a vast number of islands.

Greece lies at the juncture of Europe, Asia and Africa. It is heir to the heritages of ancient Greece, the Roman and Byzantine Empires, and nearly four centuries of Ottoman rule. Greece is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games (for this reason, unless it is the host nation, it always leads the Parade of Nations in accordance with tradition begun at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics), Western literature and historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, and Western drama including both tragedy and comedy.

Greece is a developed country, a member of the European Union since 1981, a member of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union since 2001, NATO since 1952, the OECD since 1961, the WEU since 1995 and ESA since 2005. Athens is the capital; Thessaloniki, Patras, Heraklion, Volos, Ioannina, Larissa and Kavala are some of the country's other major cities.

Protogeometric style

The Protogeometric style (or "Proto-Geometric") is a style of Ancient Greek pottery led by Athens produced between roughly 1050 and 900 BC, the period of the Greek Dark Ages and the beginning of the Archaic period. After the collapse of the Mycenaean-Minoan Palace culture and the ensuing Greek Dark Ages, the Protogeometric style emerged around the mid 11th century BCE as the first expression of a reviving civilization. Following on from the development of a faster potter's wheel, vases of this period are markedly more technically accomplished than earlier Dark Age examples. The decoration of these pots is restricted to purely abstract elements and very often includes broad horizontal bands about the neck and belly and concentric circles applied with compass and multiple brush. Many other simple motifs can be found, but unlike many pieces in the following Geometric style, typically much of the surface is left plain.Like many pieces, the example illustrated includes a colour change in the main band, arising from a firing fault. Both the red and black colour use the same clay, differently levigated and fired. As the Greeks learnt to control this variation, the path to their distinctive three-phase firing technique opened.

Some of the innovations included some new Mycenean influenced shapes, such as the belly-handled amphora, the neck handled amphora, the krater, and the lekythos. Attic artists redesigned these vessels using the fast wheel to increase the height and therefore the area available for decoration.

From Athens the style spread to several other centres.

Spyros Vassiliou

Spyros Vassiliou (Greek: Σπύρος Βασιλείου; 1903- 03.22.1985) was a Greek painter, printmaker, illustrator, and stage designer. He became widely recognized for his work starting in the 1930s, when he received the Benaki Prize from the Athens Academy. The recipient of a Guggenheim Prize for Greece (in 1960), Spyros Vassiliou's works have been exhibited in galleries throughout Europe, in the United States, and Canada.

Thanassis Stephopoulos

Thanassis Stephopoulos (Greek: Θανάσης Στεφόπουλος, 1 June 1928 – 29 December 2012) was one of Greece's most important 20th-century painters, teachers and philosophers of art. He was famous for his works, representing a genre of painting which he had introduced, the abstract landscape painting. He was one of the most important representatives of the so-called Modern Greek art.

Theophilos Hatzimihail

Theophilos Hatzimihail (Greek: Θεόφιλος Χατζημιχαήλ or Θεόφιλος Κεφαλάς; born c. 1870, Vareia, near Mytilene, island of Lesbos; died in Vareia, Greece, 24 March 1934), known simply as Theophilos, was a major folk painter of modern Greek art. The main subject of his works are Greek characters and the illustration of Greek traditional folklife and history.

Yannoulis Chalepas

Yannoulis Chalepas (Greek: Γιαννούλης Χαλεπάς, August 14, 1851 – September 15, 1938) was a Greek sculptor and significant figure of Modern Greek art.

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