Lecturer: Dr Alfred Vincent
Dominikos Theotokopoulos, aka El Greco (c. 1540-1614), remains an enigma, although his work retains its fascination and emotional appeal. In this illustrated talk, with the aid of Powerpoint slides, we will trace the development of the artist's work over the years, from Crete to Venice, Rome and Spain, while aiming to address some basic questions. In recent decades new paintings have been identified and important facts have been discovered about Dominikos' early life. In what ways do they further our understanding of his work? How does he relate to the post-Byzantine art of his home island, where he learned to paint? We will illustrate these questions by showing works by Klodzas, Damaskinos and other fine painters.
Then, what did "Domenico" learn from his stay in Venice, and in particular from the master Titian? And from his stay in Rome? In his mature work, what was his relation to the Mannerist school of painting, with which he is often associated? Can we see similarities in examples of Mannerist art?
We will then recall the cultural background of Spain, where he produced his most famous works. As a Greek brought up in an Orthodox environment, how did he fit into this fiercely Catholic kingdom? Did he come into conflict with the Inquisition, as has been claimed?
Finally, why has El Greco been treated with such freedom in novels and films? Why did Kazantzakis make him a symbolic ancestor and a "second self" in his Report to Greco? What relation do these fictional treatments bear to the historical Dominikos Theotokopoulos?
Alfred has a degree in Classics, a PhD on a Modern Greek topic, and an honorary doctorate (2002) from the University of Crete. In 1973 he was appointed to introduce Modern Greek studies at the University of Sydney, where he taught until 1998 and is now an honorary affiliate.
Much of his research has been on the society and culture of Venetian Crete; he has worked extensively on primary sources as a guest of the Hellenic Institute in Venice. His recent publications include an edition, with introduction, of the Cretan narrative poem The Shepherdess (Η Βοσκοπούλα, c. 1600 AD), published in Greek at the University of Thessaloniki (2016).
Other interests include Greek music (ancient and modern), humour and comedy, and Greek writers in the Romanian lands. He has been a founding member and secretary of the Sydney branch of the International Society of Friends of Nikos Kazantzakis. He has contributed to the Greek Festival of Sydney for many years, giving talks and co-ordinating concerts and other events.
We'd like to thank the following donors: Tom Koletsos | Konstandina Dounis in mem. of her parents Sophia and Theodoros Dounis | Sophia Atlas-White | George Ballas OAM.
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