Greek Arts: the Neo-Greek Art, Old and New Avant-Gardes

By | August 12, 2021

Modern architecture has established itself in Greece with considerable delay and with the tendency to contamination with national architectural forms. Significant episodes of contemporary architecture are the US embassy of W. Gropius (1956), the National Picture Gallery of P. Mjlonas, D. Fatouros, D. Antonakakis, and the Museum of Modern Art (1973) in Athens. Well-known architects, such as G. Candilis (1913-95), they carry out their activity almost entirely abroad. Since the seventies there has been a revival of interest in architectural research, led by J. Vikelas, who masterfully resolves the question of the continuity of the contemporary: Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1975), Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art (1986) and the of Lufthansa (1989). As for the figurative arts, the Isaurian-Byzantine iconoclastic legacy continued to impose its laws in Greece until the century. XIX, period to which the first all-round sculpture of modern Greece dates back, by the sculptor P. Prossalentis. Except for the area of ​​the Ionian islands (removed from the Turkish conquest and open to European influence), signs of a national artistic awakening came from the painter P.T. Hadijmichaìl, considered the first national painter of the new Greece. According to a2zgov, the cradle of neoclassical and romantic art was the Athens School of Fine Arts, founded in 1837, which referred to the teachings of the Germans L. Thiersch and P. Hess of the Munich School and which saw the painters Nikìphoros Lytras (1832- 1904) and N. Gysis (1842-1901), both active in Munich. At the end of the nineteenth century the interest moved from Munich to Paris, but the lack of information, entrusted in practice to the few who could afford to study in those two cities, the marginalization from Europe and the great movements, prevented in Greece the formation of an organic and autonomous artistic fabric. Adherence to Cézanne’s lessonhowever, it can be found in the works of artists such as M. Ekonòmou (1888-1933), Kikolaus Maleas (1879-1928), Nikolaus Lytras (1883-1927) and K. Parthenis (1878-1967), while that of S. Papaloukas (1892 -1957) is closer to the teachings of Van Gogh. The historical-political events of the 1920s, in art, marked a powerful return to the Byzantine tradition, imperatively consecrated as a model to be applied to the new paradigms of modern art. The originality of neo-Greek art lies precisely in this relationship with the past. The 1920-1930 decade was dominated by the presence of K. Parthenis, in whose work the hieratic nature of the icon is combined with the graphic fluidity of Matisse, the spatiality of Cézanne and the tension of El Greco. Witness of the German avant-garde was instead Y. Bouzianis (1885-1959), representative with Y. Mytarakis (1898-1963) of expressionism. Y. Gounaròpous (1890-1977), SG Steris (1895-1988), NH Ghikas (1906-94) are the so-called “Parisian” painters, linked to Orphic painting and Cubism. In this period, the avant-garde pole became the Stratigipoulos gallery in Athens, which in 1928 shocked its public by presenting cubist works by NH Ghikas and the sculptor M. Tombros (1889-1974), founder among other things of the first magazine of ‘ Greek avant-garde, Trito Mati. Towards the thirties two important artistic figures emerged: Y. Tsaurochis (1910-89), who started from the recovery of noble and popular art forms to arrive at a synthesis of raw and sensual realism, and N. Engonòpoulos (1910-85) of surrealist extraction . Other artists, whose most significant moment dates back to the immediate pre-war period are A. Georgiadis (1892-1981), N. Nikolaou (1909-86), all of realistic extraction, and Y. Mòralis (1916-2009), whose formula figurative, close to geometric abstraction, is mediated by the teachings of Titian, Courbet and Matisse. The Second World War and the occupation of Greece caused the cessation of all artistic activity. The only significant event in this period was the founding of the Techni Theater by K. Koun. After the diaspora of artists (including T. Tsingos, 1914-65, and K. Koulentianòs, b.1918, whose destination of obligation is Paris where the surrealist painter M. Pràssinos, 1916-85 also lived), provoked from the civil war, to the end of this, in 1949, A. Kondòpoulos (1905-75) founded, together with Y. Gaitis (1923-84), A. Aperghis, G. Simossi, Y. Matezos, K. Antypa, L. Lameras and D. Chytiris, the “Extremistès” group, whose manifesto promotes all the old and new avant-gardes: cubism, expressionism, surrealism and abstractionism. The fifties are those of the rebirth. The regular participation of Greek artists in the most important international artistic events (Venice Biennale, San Paolo Biennale), frequent exchanges with foreign cultural institutes open the doors of Europe to Greece and vice versa. Towards the middle of that decade, a non-figurative front emerges, the greatest exponent of which remains the informal painter Y. Spyròpoulos (1912-89), who obtained the UNESCO prize at the Venice Biennale in 1960. settled in Paris, as many moved towards New York (T. Stamos, N. Daphnis, S. Antonakos and A. Oudinotti) and Italy, where, among other things, J. Kounellis (b.1936) moved), one of the historical leaders of poor art. The next thirty years saw the adaptation of Greek visual research to international trends. In addition to Takis (b. 1925), and above all to Kounellis, artists known and celebrated internationally, contemporary Greek art is little known; the research of some artists in the informal field and around the motif of physicality with the application of multimedia techniques, have received good appreciation. Among these stands out the work of K. Tsoklis (b. 1930), which came to the attention of the public at the 1986 Venice Biennale.

Greek Arts - the Neo-Greek Art, Old and New Avant-Gardes