El Greco and Jorge Manuel, Immaculate Conception, 1607-1613, oil on canvas, 108 x 82 cm, © Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid


From April 28 to August 12, 2012 – Museum Kunstpalast

It is for the first time that the elective affinity between early Expressionism and El Greco is examined with direct reference to originals and that the phenomenon of an Old Master becoming the catalyst of a young avantgarde art movement is illustrated this vividly. The intention is to reveal the multifaceted levels on which exponents of Expressionism concerned themselves with El Greco’s pictorial world. In the process, attention is paid to the genres of religious painting as well as portrait and landscape painting. A wealth of works tell us of the profound fascination which, quite astonishingly from today’s perspective.

The Vision of Saint John, aka The Opening of the Fifth Seal (1608-1614), oil on canvas painting by El Greco, 222.3 cm x 193cm, located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

El Greco inspired Beckmann, Macke, Kokoschka, Franz Marc and all the German avant-garde of the XXth century? This is one thing most had forgotten but this exhibition “El Greco and the Modernists” is here to remind us. It is presented one century after the storm that took place when the paintings by El Greco arrived on German soil. They belonged to the Nemes collection, and were presented in Berlin, then in Dusseldorf in 1912 and finally at the Städtische Kunsthalle. It was there that the young artists were able to see this strange artist up close and the way he transformed proportions using an aggressive palette, filling his compositions with ecstatic characters with wax-colored complexions… One hundred years later, the dream of bringing together the great master and his students is finally a reality. Next to some forty paintings by El Greco, brought in from the Metropolitan, the Louvre or Toledo, we h ave works by Beckmann, Lehmbruck or Oppenheimer put in counterpoint, proving that Cézanne was not their only reference.

Museum Kunstpalast