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El Greco Dies - History

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El Greco Dies
El Greco the Spanish painter died. His paintings included Laocoon and The Resurrection.

Biography of El Greco

El Greco's dramatic and expressionistic style was met with puzzlement by his contemporaries but found appreciation in the 20th century. El Greco is regarded as a precursor of both Expressionism and Cubism, while his personality and works were a source of inspiration for poets and writers such as Rainer Maria Rilke and Nikos Kazantzakis. El Greco has been characterized by modern scholars as an artist so individual that he belongs to no conventional school. He is best known for tortuously elongated figures and often fantastic or phantasmagorical pigmentation, marrying Byzantine traditions with those of Western painting.

El Greco

El Greco

Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος (Doménikos Theotokópoulos)

  • Born: 1541 Crete, Greece
  • Died: April 7, 1614 Toledo, Spain
  • Active Years: 1563 - 1614
  • Nationality:Spanish , Greek
  • Art Movement:Mannerism (Late Renaissance)
  • Painting School:Cretan School
  • Field:painting , sculpture , architecture
  • Influenced by:Byzantine Art , Orthodox Icons
  • Influenced on:Eugene Delacroix , Edouard Manet , Paul Cezanne , Pablo Picasso , Franz Marc , Jackson Pollock , Roberto Montenegro , Jose Clemente Orozco , Francisco Pacheco , Expressionism , Cubism , Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider)
  • Teachers:Titian
  • Friends and Co-workers:Giulio Clovio
  • Wikipedia:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Greco

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Domenikos Theotokopoulos, other wise known as “El Greco” due to his Greek heritage, was a popular Greek painter, sculptor, and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. He was a master of post-Byzantine art by the age of 26, when he traveled to Venice, and later Rome, where he opened his first workshop. Unlike other artists, El Greco altered his style in order to distinguish himself from other artists of the time, inventing new and unusual interpretations of religious subject matter. He created agile, elongated figures, and included a vibrant atmospheric light. After the death of Raphael and Michelangelo, he was determined to leave his own artistic mark, and offered to paint over Michelangelo’s Last Supper to Pope Pius V. His unconventional artistic beliefs (his dislike of Michelangelo included), along with his strong personality, led to the development of many enemies in Rome, especially the hostilities of art critics.

In 1577, El Greco Moved to Toledo, where he produced the majority of his mature works. Although he did complete major commissioned works in churches around Toledo, he remained out of favor with the king, and so did not receive the royal patronage he so desired. El Greco made Toledo his home, renting a series of apartments from the Marquis de Villena, which included three apartments and twenty-four rooms. He spent much of time studying, painting, and living in high style, often employing musicians to play for him while he dined.

Although he was a much renowned and prolific painter, near the end of his life he experienced economic difficulties, exacerbated by non-payment for his work for the Hospital of Charities at Illescas. He met his end at the age of 73, due to a sudden illness. After his death, El Greco’s works were largely ignored. His unusual treatment of subject matter and complex iconography led many contemporaries to discredit his works. It was not until the emergence of the Romantic period that his works were newly discovered, sparking a revival of interest in the artist’s works. His works later influenced realist, impressionist, cubist, and abstract painters, including Pablo Picasso and Edouard Manet.

Doménikos Theotokópoulos (Greek: Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος [ðoˈminikos θeotoˈkopulos] 1541 – 7 April 1614), most widely known as El Greco ("The Greek"), was a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. "El Greco" was a nickname, a reference to his Greek origin, and the artist normally signed his paintings with his full birth name in Greek letters, Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος (Doménikos Theotokópoulos), often adding the word Κρής (Krēs, "Cretan").

El Greco was born in the Kingdom of Candia, which was at that time part of the Republic of Venice, and the center of Post-Byzantine art. He trained and became a master within that tradition before traveling at age 26 to Venice, as other Greek artists had done. In 1570 he moved to Rome, where he opened a workshop and executed a series of works. During his stay in Italy, El Greco enriched his style with elements of Mannerism and of the Venetian Renaissance taken from a number of great artists of the time, notably Tintoretto. In 1577, he moved to Toledo, Spain, where he lived and worked until his death. In Toledo, El Greco received several major commissions and produced his best-known paintings.

El Greco's dramatic and expressionistic style was met with puzzlement by his contemporaries but found appreciation in the 20th century. El Greco is regarded as a precursor of both Expressionism and Cubism, while his personality and works were a source of inspiration for poets and writers such as Rainer Maria Rilke and Nikos Kazantzakis. El Greco has been characterized by modern scholars as an artist so individual that he belongs to no conventional school. He is best known for tortuously elongated figures and often fantastic or phantasmagorical pigmentation, marrying Byzantine traditions with those of Western painting.

Born in 1541, in either the village of Fodele or Candia (the Venetian name of Chandax, present day Heraklion) on Crete, El Greco was descended from a prosperous urban family, which had probably been driven out of Chania to Candia after an uprising against the Catholic Venetians between 1526 and 1528. El Greco's father, Geórgios Theotokópoulos (d. 1556), was a merchant and tax collector. Nothing is known about his mother or his first wife, also Greek. El Greco's older brother, Manoússos Theotokópoulos (1531 – 13 December 1604), was a wealthy merchant and spent the last years of his life (1603–1604) in El Greco's Toledo home.

El Greco received his initial training as an icon painter of the Cretan school, a leading center of post-Byzantine art. In addition to painting, he probably studied the classics of ancient Greece, and perhaps the Latin classics also he left a "working library" of 130 books at his death, including the Bible in Greek and an annotated Vasari. Candia was a center for artistic activity where Eastern and Western cultures co-existed harmoniously, where around two hundred painters were active during the 16th century, and had organized a painters' guild, based on the Italian model. In 1563, at the age of twenty-two, El Greco was described in a document as a "master" ("maestro Domenigo"), meaning he was already a master of the guild and presumably operating his own workshop. Three years later, in June 1566, as a witness to a contract, he signed his name as μαΐστρος Μένεγος Θεοτοκόπουλος σγουράφος ("Master Ménegos Theotokópoulos, painter").

This is a part of the Wikipedia article used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). The full text of the article is here →

3. He was already considered to be a master in his early 20’s

There were about 200 artists active on Crete at the time and El Greco was clearly one of the most talented of them all. In 1563, when he was just 22, he was already described as a “maestro Domenigo,” a master painter who already earned his reputation and probably had his own studio.

This is emphasized by the fact that he signed using the Greek name “μαΐστρος Μένεγος Θεοτοκόπουλος σγουράφος,’ which translates to “Master Ménegos Theotokópoulos, painter.” Possible portrait of EL Greco / Wiki Commons

El Greco Artworks

The Holy Trinity, painted between 1577 and 1579, depicts God holding a dying Christ in his arms, as they float amidst clouds in heaven, with the dove of the Holy Spirit flying over their heads. Surrounding them are six angels in colored robes, and behind them, coming from above is a bright golden light. The painting is part of El Greco's first major commission for the Church Santo Domingo in Toledo, and, as soon as it was completed it established him within the community as a revered artist. Today it is considered one of his masterpieces, and noted as one of Édouard Manet's favorite paintings.

This early example of El Greco's work presents a synthesis of the two major influences that define him: the Renaissance masters and the Byzantine iconic tradition. Although the composition shows affinities with the works of Michelangelo and Dürer, and both artists are believed to have been a profound inspiration for this painting, the work also already shows various unique attributes that defined El Greco's body of work and composed his signature language. Art historian Keith Christiansen claims that, "He made elongated, twisting forms, radical foreshortening, and unreal colors the very basis of his art." All of these aspects are present in The Holy Trinity: the brilliant and expressive use of color in the robes, the continuity between forms and substance in the intertwining of the bodies of the figures, the elongation of the figures, especially in Christ's body, and the imaginative dream like quality that defines the overall feeling of the painting. One of his main characteristic techniques is also already used in the work profusely, which is the use of highlights next to dark and thick outlines to create a profoundly dramatic effect.

A specific interpretation can be found in the colors employed, where the gloomy aspect of the clouds can be seen to represent death, opposing the golden rays above that symbolize the eternal the two emphasize the duality between life and the ever after. Overall, this is the main interpretation of the work: an embodiment of the eternal as a reality thereby instilling a new sense of hope and devotion in the faithful.

Oil on canvas - Museo del Prado, Madrid

The Nobleman With his Hand on his Chest (El caballero de la mano en el pecho)

This painting is a portrait of a nobleman or knight around the age of 30, whose real name is unknown. He is dressed in traditional Spanish clothing holding a sword in one hand while the other is poised over his heart. Staring intensely at the viewer, he is portrayed in a manner that is profoundly realistic yet also imaginative. With an aspect deeply characteristic of El Greco's work, the depiction possesses specific technically accurate features such as the beard, combined with stylized elements, such as the elongated fingers and torso. The muted, dark colors and tones contrast greatly with the white of the ruffles. The dramatic use of contrast and light greatly enhances the emotional and psychological depths that define the subject.

Although El Greco was mostly known for his religious themes, he was also a prolific portraitist, known for capturing the character and personality of his subjects in an intuitive way. This painting is considered to be his most famous portrait. It is also an example of his breaking away from the traditional Renaissance style and his Byzantine background through a more Mannerist, imaginative mode. El Greco was known to claim that an artist "must study the Masters but guard the original style that beats within your soul," emphasizing the importance of establishing and being true to his own vision and individual artistic language.

This portrait can be seen as a direct influence on the portraiture works later developed by other art movements such as Expressionism. In a broader way, El Greco's ability to transform reality to expose an inner vision or inner world, can be seen as a precursor of Modern Art.

In this context, it is also of reference to Picasso's painting entitled Portrait of a Painter, after El Greco, from 1950, that can be seen as a tribute to El Greco's way of envisioning and understanding art, which established a great influence on Picasso from the very beginning of his artistic career. In the work, Picasso combined El Greco's use of dark browns and ochres with his signature Cubist language, echoing centuries later, El Greco's ever-present iconography.

The painting is featured in the cover of a Vangelis album entitled El Greco from 1998.

Oil on canvas - Museo del Prado, Madrid

The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (El entierro del conde de Orgaz)

This large painting, three and half meters wide by almost five meters high, is universally regarded as El Greco's greatest masterpiece and most famous work. It was commissioned by the parish priest of Santo Tomé in Toledo, and is considered to be a prime example of Mannerism. Along with Tintoretto, Agnolo Bronzino, Jacopo da Pontormo, and others, El Greco is considered one of the main Mannerist artists. His contribution to the development of the movement is marked by visual compositions that moved away from an idealized perfection into a world charged with tension and emotional complexity through form, imagination, and expression.

El Greco referred to this painting as his 'sublime work.' The Burial of Count of Orgaz is a popular legend in Toledo of a pious and charitable man who left a large sum of money to the church after his death and was subsequently buried and escorted to heaven by Saint Stephen and Saint Augustine. The funerary scene is portrayed at the bottom of the painting, with the Count surrounded by the two saints, followed by other noble men and clergyman of the time in 16 th century clothing, captured in a static way. It is contrasted with the celestial kingdom in heaven that includes Mary, Christ, God, John the Baptist, and the angels, who all observe the scene, depicted in a more organic free flowing way, so as to represent the intangibility and immateriality of spirit. The young boy at the left is said to be Jorge Manuel, the artist's son.

One possible interpretation that is in the juxtaposition of the worlds: the physical world of earth and the spiritual world of heaven, each portrayed in their own ways. Earth is captured in normal scale with more proportional figures, whereas heaven is composed of swirling clouds and abstract shapes, with a more intangible quality to the figures. This clear distinction greatly allows for two ideas: on the one hand a union between both worlds is proposed, on the other, the separation of the worlds is enhanced. Another interpretation is brought forth by art Historian Dr. Vida Hull who claims the painting represents "a visionary experience." In her view, the amorphous character and the elongation of the bodies all convey a profound otherworldliness, as it is the soul of the Count that is being brought up to heaven.

Burial scenes were often depicted as a main religious theme in art. Other notorious works of burials, painted after El Greco's, include the Burial At Ornans (1849) by Gustave Coubert, The Burial of the Sardine (c. 1812-1819) by Francisco Goya, and the Burial of St. Lucy (1608) by Caravaggio.

Oil on canvas - Iglesia de Santo Tomé, Toledo

Madonna and Child with Saint Martina and Saint Agnes

Madonna and Child with Saint Martina and Saint Agnes depicts Mary and the baby Jesus seated on clouds in heaven, accompanied by Saint Agnes holding a lamb on the bottom right and Saint Martina on the bottom left. The figures dominate most of this large-scale painting, intertwining with each other in a complex interdependent way. The painting was originally placed opposite another of El Greco's paintings, Saint Martin and the Beggar, in the Chapel of Saint Joseph in Toledo and represents a body of work made between 1957 and 1607 of various commissions characterizing his mature period.

This work is an example of his deeply expressive nature and stylized approach to form. The use of brilliant vibrant colors, that is also so characteristic of El Greco's paintings is very much present in the work, featuring the cloaks of the angels and Mary in deep reds, blues, and yellows. For El Greco, the use of color was considered to be a fundamental feature of every painting, much more than form, and he thought it was a profoundly complex issue claiming that he considered the imitation of color "to be the greatest difficulty of art."

One way of interpreting the work is brought forth by the novelist and art critic Aldous Huxley, when in 1950, he claimed that, "the intention of the artist was neither to imitate nature nor to tell a story with dramatic verisimilitude," but rather to create "his own world of pictorial forms in pictorial space under pictorial illumination . using it as a vehicle for expressing what he wanted to say about life." In this perspective it is the underlying message, the portrayal of the spiritual realm as a real presence of the world, that grants the work its universal significance.

Oil on canvas - National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

View of Toledo

The painting depicts a view of the city of Toledo where El Greco lived for most of his life. The landscape is painted in a dramatic manner, with vivid vegetation in the foreground and tumultuous clouds that seem to be announcing a storm as background. The city is depicted with grey tones, as it sits at a distance at the top of the natural hills, leading down into the Roman Alcántara bridge. The buildings are depicted in a cloud-like form, an organically clustered agglomeration.

El Greco approached the subject in the same manner as he did his other works, drawing inspiration from reality but remaining untrue to it. He invented the scene in order to convey the emotions that he desired besides the castle of San Servando being located correctly, all the rest of the buildings are derived from his imagination.

The portrayal of a landscape subject was an unusual subject for the time, especially in a Spanish context, which garnered El Greco consideration as the first landscape artist in the history of Spanish art. This particular rendition of the sky is one of the best known in Western art. It is the only surviving example of El Greco's landscapes and very little is known about its story, origin, or circumstances.

The imaginative language of the painting can also be seen as a direct influence on Expressionism. Both Edvard Munch's The Scream of 1893, with its dramatic flowing sky and clouds, and Van Gogh's landscapes such as The Starry Night painted in 1889, with its contorted vegetation and dramatic skies, can all be seen to further El Greco's viewpoint.

Oil on canvas - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

The Ecstasy of St. Francis of Assisi

The painting depicts the ecstasy of St. Francis, a popular subject in classical art also depicted by Caravaggio in 1595, by Giovanni Bellini in 1475, by Giovanni Baglione in 1601, and various other notorious artists whom were all drawn to the story. It depicts the scene from the legendary life of Saint Francis of Assisi, a 12 th century Italian saint, who two years before his death in 1224, embarked on a journey to Mount La Verna for forty days of fasting and prayer. One morning as he prayed, he went into a religious ecstasy and received the stigmata (the marks of Christ upon his body as he was nailed to the cross) by an angel or seraph. In the painting, El Greco portrays St. Francis in this exact moment with a face full of the emotions of devotion, pain, and surrender. In front of the Saint is a skull, usually associated with the Saint, and a symbol of mortality.

El Greco was fascinated with this subject, as it is generally sustained that his workshop possessed over a hundred representations of St. Francis. However in this painting, El Greco dispenses his usual light, colorful and bright representations, and creates an overall dark and somber atmosphere to re-create the painful and dramatic experience of the Saint.

Although the painting is also an example of Mannerism, its use of high contrast darkness and light seems reminiscent of another artistic language that can be associated to the dramatic works of Rembrandt in the 17 th Century.

Christ blessing (The Saviour of the World)

This painting depicts Christ holding one hand on a blue globe, and gesturing to heaven with the other. There is a white light shining either from behind him or from within him, acting as a halo against the black dark background. It is painted in El Greco's signature fluid style and possesses a profound aesthetic and psychological force, mainly granted by the intense look of Christ's eyes that stare deep into the observer. The vivid bright red color of his robes deeply contrast with the subdued and somber color employed in the rest of the painting. As is characteristic of his body of work, the elongated fingers and torso, deeply inspired by Tintoretto and Titian, grant the painting a dreamlike quality that is both real and profoundly unworldly, seeming to make Christ belong, physically and metaphorically, to both worlds.

This work reflects a good example of El Greco's mode of combining a more Byzantine iconic tradition with the more humanistic approach of the Renaissance, while still rejecting an exact imitation of reality. As Art historian Keith Christiansen claims, "El Greco rejected naturalism as a vehicle for his art just as he rejected the idea of an art easily accessible to a large public. What he embraced was the world of a self-consciously, erudite style, or maniera," deeply associated to Mannerism. By denying the world around him and moving away from realistic and naturalistic languages, he embodies the realm of the spirit through movement and freedom of form in a symbolic and metaphorical way. In fact, El Greco is known for claiming, "The spirit of creation is an excruciating, intricate exploration from within the soul".

Oil on canvas - Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, UK

Laocoon (Laocoonte)

The painting portrays the myth of Laocoon, a Trojan priest who according to legend, warned the locals about the Trojan horse and also profaned the temple of God. As a consequence, giant serpents sent by the angry Gods killed him and his two sons, Antiphantes and Thymbraeus. In the painting, the three are depicted in the foreground being engulfed by the large serpents. On the right, one of the sons appears to be already dead as he lies on the ground, whereas Laocoon and his other son fight for their lives. The background features the Trojan horse and the town of Toledo surrounded by trees in intense blues and greens. These vibrant colors of life greatly contrast with the muted grey palette used for the figures that symbolize death. The two figures standing on the far right are presumed to be Apollo and Artemis who observe the unfolding drama.

Art historian Keith Christiansen claims, "No other great Western artist moved mentally - as El Greco did," emphasizing the underlying psychological intention of the work. In this sense, the main interpretation that can be drawn is derived from the myth itself, that man is powerless and hopeless in the realm of the Divine and must succumb to his inevitable fate.

This work is considered one of the best examples of El Greco's later works, and the only of his known paintings that depicts a mythological theme rather than a religious one. Along with The Vision of Saint John (1608-1614), it is known for having a profound influence on the Expressionist and Cubist movements because of its intense emotional imagery and its vivid accentuation of individual form within the overall composition.

Oil on canvas - National Art Gallery, Washington D.C.

The Vision of Saint John

This large canvas is considered another one of El Greco's masterpieces. It depicts a passage in the Bible, Revelation (6:9-11), which describes the opening of the Fifth Seal at the end of time and the distribution of white robes to "those who had been slain for the work of God and for the witness they had borne." In the foreground, we see the elongated figure of Saint John, on his knees with arms wide open, as he implores to God above. Behind him is displayed a group of naked figures, reaching up to the heavens for their robes, some of which are white and others which are colored. These are the souls of martyrs who have been crying out to God for justice.

The painting is one of various works commissioned by Pedro Salazar de Mendoza, an admirer and collector, for the Church of the Hospital of Saint John the Baptist (the Tavera Hospital). El Greco died before he was able to complete the painting and it is said that there was an upper part to the painting that is missing, believed to have been destroyed in 1880. Rumors state that the missing part may have depicted the Sacrificial Lamb opening the Fifth Seal.

The work exerted a profound influence on Pablo Picasso, who is believed to have studied it profoundly using it as inspiration for the composition of his own masterpiece Les Demoiselles D'Avignon (1907). Connections can be drawn in the dynamic composition created between the various figures in both paintings.

Art critic Jonathan Jones, states that El Greco was "drawn to complexity, to obscurity, to sophistication," three characteristics that greatly define this work, and that he "spoke a messianic language of religious renewal." This renewal through faith is in fact, one of El Greco's main motivations, and is the prime underlying message of this work that emphasizes the salvation and protection of souls that are good.

5 Fun Facts About Spanish Renaissance Artist El Greco

Famous historical artistsFamous paintersSpainSpanish Painter

To say that El Greco, painter, sculptor, and architect of the Spanish Renaissance, is an important figure in art history is an understatement. The artist, who was born in 1541 and died in 1614, made huge artistic contributions to the world and even challenged Michelangelo’s work. Below you will find 5 fun facts about El Greco that can be used in the classroom or simply for your own personal enrichment.

5 Fun Facts About Artist El Greco

There are dozens of amazing facts about artist El Greco that will intrigue art lovers. Here are just 5…

    El Greco” was not the artist’s birth name— he was born “Doménikos Theotokópoulos .” “El Greco” simply means “The Greek.” While the artist was widely known as El Greco as he rose to notoriety, he typically signed his full birth name to his art in Greek letters. The Encyclopaedia Britannica said El Greco was “a name he acquired when he lived in Italy, where the custom of identifying a man by designating country or city of origin was a common practice. The curious form of the article (El), however, may be the Venetian dialect or more likely from the Spanish.”

  1. Despite being Greek, El Greco was a devout Catholic. So were many other citizens of the Kingdom of Candia, which was his place of birth. The Kingdom of Candia (Crete) was a part of the Republic of Venice at the time. It was home to Greco until he was around 20 years years old, at which time he migrated to Venice to study with Titian, the most renowned painter of his day. The two major religions of the Kingdom of Candia were Roman Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy. Although the painter was Greek, he was a self-proclaimed devout Catholic. Some scholars believe he converted from Greek Orthodoxy to become part of the Catholic Cretan minority. Even if El Greco hadn’t claimed to be Catholic in his last will and testament, his artwork reflects the religious climate of Roman Catholic Spain and thus would have been a giveaway.

    El Greco was pushed out of Rome by artists loyal to Michelangelo . In his article The Reluctant Disciple ,

    El Greco found great success in Spain after he moved there in 1576 . While in Spain El Greco painted

“The Burial of the Count of Orgaz”

On April 7, 1614, El Greco died in Spain. According to Biography he passed away unappreciated by the art world which wouldn’t acknowledge him as a master for 250 years. Today he is known as one of the most influential painters to have ever lived. It is also believed by art scholars that El Greco influenced artists like Picasso, as well as writers like Rainer Maria Rilke and Nikos Kazantzakis.

Make Art Like El Greco

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  1. A passion for art
  2. A love for the European Mannerism style of art
  3. A Windows PC

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SegPlay PC gamifies art and gives art enthusiasts another channel through which to express their love of art. El Greco fans will adore this El Greco digital paint-by-number pattern set . After you have downloaded a FREE trial of SegPlay PC , be sure to treat yourself to the El Greco paint-by-number SegPlay PC pattern set .

The SegPlayPC™ pattern set for El Greco contains 25 patterns created from his most well-known paintings filled with elongated figures and iconic symbols. There are many portraits of…

  • Popes
  • Cardinals
  • A Friar
  • Antonio Covarrubias
  • Julije Klovic
  • An unknown Lady
  • A self portrait

Also included in this set are his numerous religious interpretations:

  • The Spoliation
  • The Holy Family
  • Annunciation
  • Via Crucis
  • Saint John the Evangelist
  • Apostles Peter and Paul
  • The Repentant Peter
  • A landscape (View of Toledo)

Take a closer look at the El Greco SegPlay PC pattern here .

Are you a huge fan of El Greco’s art? Why or why not? We would love to hear from you, so please leave your thoughts in the “comments” section below.

Read more Segmation blog post about Mannerist artists:

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Kanda Shokai was established in 1948 and the Greco brand name was started in 1960. [2] [3] [1] [4] It was not until 1966/1967 that Kanda Shokai began marketing Greco Telecaster-like models. [ clarification needed ] Originally, Kanda Shokai used the 'Greco' brand name for the solid body models and used the 'Canda' brand name for its Acoustic models, basing this on the company name Kanda (Canda). In the mid/late 1960s, Kanda Shokai also exported some Greco-branded guitars based on Hagström and EKO designs for Avnet/Goya in the USA. [ citation needed ] These guitars were made by the FujiGen and Matsumoku (and possibly Teisco [ citation needed ] ) guitar factories and were very similar to the late 1960s Ibanez guitars based on Hagström and EKO designs. Kanda Shokai also marketed a few original designs in the late 60s including the Greco Semi-hollow "Shrike" guitars which were imported and marketed first by Goya and later by Kustom. The "Shrike" model was unusual in that it had a pair of unusual "L" shaped pickups, with the corner of the "L" pointing towards the headstock on the neck pickup and towards the bridge on the bridge pickup These "boomerang" pickups predate the Gibson Flying V2 "Boomerang" shaped pickups by over 10 years.

In the early 1970s Kanda Shokai marketed Greco Gibson-like models, but with bolt-on necks rather than the set necks of genuine Gibson guitars. These were very similar to the Ibanez Gibson-like models available at that time and most of these models had a Greco logo that looked more like "Gneco". By the mid/late 1970s most Greco Gibson-like models were being made with set necks and open book Gibson headstock designs. Some other Greco Gibson-like models from the 1970s had a different headstock design, more like a Guild headstock design, that had a Greco logo with equally sized letters.

Starting in 1979, the Greco "Super Real Series" was introduced which made available high standard replicas of Gibson and Fender models. In 1982 the Greco "Mint Collection" was introduced, which continued the high standard of the "Super Real Series". In 1982 Kanda Shokai and Yamano Gakki become part of Fender Japan and Kanda Shokai stopped producing its own Greco Fender replica models. Since the end of the Greco open book headstock Gibson replicas in the early 1990s, Kanda Shokai have produced various models using the Greco brand name such as the "Mirage Series" (similar to the Ibanez Iceman), various Gibson copies (not using the open book Gibson headstock design), Violin basses (VB), Zemaitis Guitars and addition to various other models.

Some notable guitar players who have used Greco guitars include Ace Frehley who used Greco Les Paul replicas when his band Kiss was on tour in Japan, Millie Rose Lee of Dead Witch and Elliot Easton of The Cars, Peter Tork of The Monkees on his 1979 -81 solo tours had 2 of the Tobacco Sunburst Les Paul models. The Greco BM line is particularly notable as they're almost endorsed signature models. Brian May played (or at least mimed) his BM-900 on several television appearances [5] [6] and in 1983 remarked:

A Japanese firm called Greco made a Brian May guitar, an exact copy. They called it a BHM 900 or something. They sent me an example. I said, "Thanks very much for sending it to me. It looks nice, but it doesn't actually sound that nice. Why don't we get together and make it sound good, too? Then you can put my name on it properly". They never replied. [7]

Early Greco electrics Edit

The Japanese made Greco guitars were initially being distributed in the US through Goya and later by Kustom (known for their amps). Prior to that, Goya sold Electric guitars made by Hagstrom . Among the Electric guitar models that Greco offered during this period, were two thin semi-hollow bodystyle that were equipped with the Patented “Shrike” pickups. These were the 950, and 975 models. A 12 string version for both bodystyles were available as well, and were labeled models 960 and 976 respectively. Those models with the Boomerang “L” shaped split coil pickups were called “Shrike” models. The “Shrike” pickups were advertised as producing that distinctive "shrike" sound. The shrikes had a single volume pot and a group of slide switches to control the 4 split coil pickups in the 2 L shaped enclosures. So you could switch between high and low strings on the pickups.

The 975 model and its 12 string brother the 976 model were the top of the line imported Grecos in 1968. These were initially available only in the Shrike version, and later a more conventional 2 standard pickup version appeared. The models with standard pickups were not called “Shrike” models. Standard pickup models had the common 2 volume, 2 tone pot controls and toggle switch for the two pickups. These were regarded as attractive and well-made guitars. They had bound semi-hollow bodies and a bound neck, diamond-shaped sound holes, rectangular shaped fretboard inlays and headstock truss adjustment. The tuners were the same as the Teisco Spectrum 5 of that period, and the Neck-plate had the L shaped pickup patent number stamped on it. The zero fret and thin neck is reminiscent of a Mosrite. The 975 model “Shrike” was considered to be of higher build quality than the many entry-level Japanese guitars that had become widely available earlier in the decade, but by 1970 the 975-style models were discontinued, a victim of the decline of the 1960s guitar boom. Soon Greco would move toward copying Fender and Gibson products, becoming a major brand in the so-called "Lawsuit" copy era, along with Tokai and the Ibanez company, which became the subject of legal action by Gibson.

Lawsuit "copy" era Edit

The Greco Fender replicas from the late 1970s and early 1980s are similar to the early Fender Japan guitars, as Kanda Shokai owns the Greco brand and is also a part of Fender Japan. The Greco Fender replicas made by Matsumoku have Matsumoku stamped on the neckplate and the other Greco Fender replicas were made by Fuji-Gen Gakki. Most of the Greco models included the original selling price in Japanese Yen (in Japanese) 円 in the model number (EGF-1800 = 180000 Yen). The "Super Real Series" date from late 1979 to 1982 and the open O Greco logo "Mint Collection Series" date from 1982 to the early 1990s. The "Mint Collection Series" have an open O letter in their Greco logo (an O letter with the top part of the O letter removed) and the "Super Real Series" usually have a closed O letter in their Greco logo.

The Fuji-Gen Gakki guitar factory were the main maker of the Greco guitars in the 1970s and 1980s. [12] Fuji-Gen Gakki obtained a CNC router in mid-1981 for making guitar parts and also began to manufacture their own pickups starting in late 1981. [13] The Fuji-Gen Gakki CNC router and Fuji-Gen Gakki made pickups were used for the "Super Real" and "Mint Collection" series starting from 1981 to the early 1990s. Up until 1981/1982, Nisshin Onpa (Maxon) made pickups were used in the Greco guitars including the "Super Real Series" and the guitars were made in a more luthier style with no CNC machines used. The Cor-Tek and Tokai guitar factories were also used to make some Greco models due to FujiGen not being able to make some lower priced Grecos in the late 1980s.

There were also some transitional Greco models from 1981/1982 that have a mixture of "Super Real Series" and "Mint Collection Series" features such as a "Super Real" model with an open O letter in the Greco logo instead of a closed O letter. The Super Real EGF (flametop) and EG series higher end models featured nitrocellulose lacquer finishes and fret edge binding and some of the Super Real lower end models also featured fret edge binding.

Medium tenon neck joints with dowel reinforcements were used up until 1981 and standard Gibson style long and medium tenon neck joints were used after 1981. The medium tenon neck joints with dowel reinforcements were very similar to the Gibson long tenon neck joints that were used in the early 1970s before Gibson switched to using a short tenon neck joint. Some Greco models featured chambered (not solid) body designs up to the early 1980s, which weighed less than a regular solid body model and also had a slight semi acoustic quality. Some of the current Gibson models also use chambered bodies, such as the Gibson Les Paul Supreme.

Some Greco Les Paul guitars up until 1982 had laminated pancake bodies and were based on the similar Gibson Les Paul laminated guitars from the 1970s. The lowest priced Greco Les Pauls sometimes had different wood combinations from the regular Maple and Mahogany. Up to 1980 the lowest priced Greco Les Pauls, such as the EG450 model, had Birch bodies. The lowest priced Super Real and Super Power Les Pauls, such as the EG450 and EG480 models from late 1979 to 1982, had Sycamore tops.

The EGF-1800 (flametop), EGF-1200 (flametop) and EG-1000C (custom) models from the 1980 and 1981 catalogues (as well as very early 1982 models) featured "Dry Z" pickups (PAF-like pickups made by Nisshin Onpa (Maxon)). The type of pickups varied depending on the guitars original selling price and the Nisshin Onpa (Maxon) made "Dry Z" or Fuji-Gen Gakki made "Dry 82" pickups were reserved for the top end models. The lower end models such as the EG-500 mostly used 3-piece maple tops while the higher end models mostly used 2-piece maple tops. "Mint Collection" models with a K after the numeric price designation (e.g. PC-98K) came with factory-installed Kahler tremolo (vibrato) bridges.

The "Mint Collection Series" features varied according to price, with some of the higher-end models, such as the EG58-120, model having most of the features of the "Super Real" higher-end models. Most of the "Mint Collection Series" had long-tenon neck joints, but some had medium long tenon neck joints. There were also some Greco "Super Sound", "Super Power" and "Rock Spirits" Gibson replica models made. The "Super Sound" models were mid-priced models from the "Super Real" years (1979-1982) and the "Super Power" models were lower-priced models from the "Super Real" years (1979-1982). The "Rock Spirits" models were lower-priced models from between 1979 and the early 1990s

Greco guitars have been made by Matsumoku, Fuji-Gen Gakki, [14] Dyna Gakki [15] and others as well. Greco Gibson replicas around 1975 and pre 1975 models had a Greco logo that looked like "Gneco".

Most of the Greco open book headstock Gibson replicas were made by FujiGen Gakki. Some Greco open book headstock Gibson replicas starting from around 1988 had no serial numbers. The lower priced no serial number Greco Les Paul and SG models were made by Cor-Tek (Cort) and usually have Cor-Tek (Cort) potentiometers. The Cor-Tek made Greco guitars have square shaped, brick like nuts with no slope and also often have shielding paint in the pickup and control cavities. Other higher priced no serial Greco Les Paul and SG models were made by Tōkai and the Les Paul models have an EG-75 or EGC-75 model number stamped in the pickup cavity and sometimes have fret edge binding.

The no serial Greco guitars made by Tokai have square shaped routing holes at the bottom of the pickup cavities whereas the no serial Greco guitars made by Cor-Tek (Cort) have thinner rectangle shaped routing holes at the bottom of the pickup cavities. Kanda Shokai stopped using the open book headstock design on Greco Gibson replica models around the early 1990s and then concentrated on their other model lines and Fender Japan. Atlansia have supplied body and neck parts for Greco models as well. Tokai currently make the Kanda Shokai Zemaitis and Talbo models.

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson via WikiCommons

Emily Dickinson wrote about love so eloquently, “morning without you is a dwindled dawn” which is the nicest thing we’ve read all day. She was hugely prolific as she wrote and published over eighteen hundred poems while she was alive so she really didn’t have time for any awkward dating situations. Nobody, especially Emily Dickinson had time for that. Sadly, many of her close family and friends died before her, and she struggled coming to terms with their deaths. She died a recluse, some debating if she suffered from Agoraphobia and Epilepsy.

Do you know about how other artists lived out the last days of their life? How have did your favorite artists enjoy (or not) their latter years? We’d love to keep the discussion going in the comments below.


El Grecon syntymäpaikkana pidetään Fódelen kylää. [2] El Grecon syntymän aikoihin Kreetalla oli paljon ikonimaalareita. Greco sai sieltä bysanttilaisia vaikutteita ja maalasi myös ikoneita. [1] Nuori El Greco varttui kreetalaisen koulukunnan vaikutteiden piirissä. Jo 22-vuotiaana vuonna 1563 häntä luonnehdittiin eräässä asiakirjassa mestariksi. [3] El Greco muutti 1565 Venetsiaan, jossa sai vaikutteita venetsialaisten maalarien värienkäytöstä ja manierismista. Hän työskenteli luultavasti Tizianin ja Tintoretton ateljeissa. Vuosina 1570–1571 hän oleskeli Roomassa, missä tutustui Michelangelon teoksiin. [1]

El Greco muutti Espanjan Toledoon noin vuonna 1576. Hän sai siellä tehtäväkseen maalata kolme suurta alttaritaulua Santo Domingo el Antiguon kirkkoon. Myöhemmin hän teki muotokuvia ja uskonnollisia tilausteoksia. Toledossa hänen ihmishahmonsa alkoivat pidentyä ja maalauksiin tuli levoton tunnelma. Voimakkaat siniset ja keltaiset värit irtautuivat luonnonmukaisista paikallisväreistä, ja El Grecosta tuli eurooppalaisen taiteen ensimmäisiä koloristeja. Hän alkoi käyttää yhä selkeämpiä valojen, varjojen ja värien vastakohtia. El Greco alkoi myös pidentää figuureitaan, mikä lisäsi näiden hengellistä voimaa ja loi maalauksiin levottoman tunnelman. Hänen värinsä, varsinkin kirkkaat siniset ja keltaiset, eivät olleet luonnonmukaisia. Värien ohella selkeän tilakuvauksen hylkääminen lisäsi hänen teostensa salaperäisen hengellistä tuntua. [1]

Vaikka El Grecon ateljeessa työskenteli monia taiteilijoita ja hänen teoksiaan kopioitiin, ei hän vaikuttanut paljonkaan naturalisemmin maalanneisiin aikalaisiinsa. [1] El Grecon omaperäinen tyyli hämmensi aikalaisia, eikä häntä juuri tunnettu Espanjan ulkopuolella, mutta 1900-luvulla hänen teoksensa saivat arvostusta. [4]

El Greco and his paintings

El Greco is probably one of the most well known artists of his time, and still to this day, over 500 years after his death. Because of the obscurity in his style, and the fact that he was considered a painter of the spirit, he was one of the most influential painters, which set the groundwork for many to follow, and for many art forms that followed. His work was admired by the members of the Blue Rider School, and several artists who followed, far after his career ended.

El Greco was born in Crete, and was trained as an icon painter. The non-naturalistic basis of his work showcased the talent that would follow, in the many pieces created during the course of his career. He moved to Venice in 1567, as Crete was considered a Venetian territory. At this point, he made it his goal to master the form of Renaissance painting this included a perspective, figural style, and the ability to create and stage elaborate narratives, for the work he would create. The mural of Christ healing the blind is one of the pieces that showcases this narration, and is one of his most famous art works created. He also wrote treatises about painting, and the style of work he created for the art world.

Upon moving from Venice, El Greco lived and worked in Rome from 1570 to 1576. He came with a letter of recommendation from the Croatian miniaturist, and this secured him a place to stay and work while in Rome. There he set about mastering the elements of Renaissance Art, including perspective, figural construction, and the ability to stage elaborate narratives. By the time El Greco arrived in Rome, Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci were dead, but their example continued to be paramount, and somewhat overwhelming for young painters. El Greco was determined to make his own mark in Rome defending his personal artistic views, ideas and style. He stayed with Alessandro Farnese, who was possibly the wealthiest and most influential patron in Rome, during this period. In 1572, El Greco joined the painter's academy, where he was known to have one or two assistants while working here. Although he did not receive the commission he was hoping for in Rome, he did receive numerous requests for portraits, and small scale devotional paintings and sculptures to be created for high end clientele. One of the reasons why El Greco was chastised in Rome, and possibly did not reach the peak of his career there, was due to the fact that he had criticized Michelangelo, and his extensive work, which was highly respected in Rome for this reason, the work El Greco was not viewed for its full potential, and he was ostracized by many for this.

In 1576, El Greco made the move to Spain, where his first bid for royal patronage with Phillip II, failed. It was not until he moved out to Toledo, where he finally became recognized as a great artist, and the potential he had was finally being viewed by peers, and admirers in the art world. El Greco was immortalized in this city, and the piece View from Toledo was quite possibly one of his most famous pieces in the city he found a group of friends and colleagues, and was beginning to make his mark as an artist it was in the city of Toledo where he began making a profitable career for himself as an artist.

While in Toledo, El Greco was commissioned to paint three altarpieces, by Diego de Castilla (who was the dean of the Toledo Cathedral). These pieces were to be painted for the Church of Santo Domingo el Antiguo. These were quite possibly some of the biggest masterpieces the artist created, and were the first major art works he did. They focused on a variety of styles, and unique form which he had picked up while living in Italy. Some hints of naturalism could be seen in the characters, compositional ideas which were learned by the works of Michelangelo were also present in his paintings, and there was also a mannerist emphasis, on the elegant and refined features which were noted, in the three works he was commissioned to create.

During the commission of these works, a dispute between the price that was paid, and what El Greco hoped to earn, led to litigation this not only caused a rift between those who had befriended him in Toledo, but also left a mark on the career which followed. Due to this issue, El Greco never received another sizable commission from the religious authorities, and was never hired to do work on any churches for the remainder of his career. Most of the work and commissions that were received in the later part of his career, came from private individuals, as well as covenants in the city.

The most famous painting which El Greco drew was The Burial of Count Orgaz, which was commissioned by the parish priest (Santo Tome), in Toledo, in 1586. It was a celebration of the financial obligation that people had to the church. The picture is meant to serve as a real world of the viewer, and the fictional world as seen through the painting. This piece is central to the understanding that the art world has to El Greco and his work in general it captures the essence of his art, which is a visionary experience which hasn't been duplicated by any other artist.

El Greco also excelled as a portraitist, mainly of ecclesiastics or gentlemen, who was able not only to record a sitter's features but to convey his character. Although he was primarily a painter of religious subjects, his portraits, though less numerous, are equally high in quality. Two of his late works are the portraits of Fray Felix Hortensio Paravicino (1609) and Cardinal Don Fernando Nino de Guevara (1600). Both are seated, as was customary in portraits presenting important ecclesiastics. By such simple means, the artist created a memorable characterization that places him in the highest rank as a portraitist, along with Titian and Rembrandt.

Late in his career, El Greco rejected the art form as a vehicle for his art, and embraced the self conscious style, known as maneira. This stems from the fact that the artist took the opposite route when the style of mannerism was being rejected in Rome while other artists were turning away from this form of art, El Greco accepted it, and worked it into his pieces. Elongated twists and forms, and unreal colors were some of the basis for his artwork.

I paint because the spirits whisper madly inside my head." - El Greco

Just like Shakespeare on literature, and Sigmund Freud on psychology, El Greco's impact on art is tremendous. Not only was El Greco one of the most influential artists, he was the only Western artist to move the mentality and perception of the art world. With a spiritual basis for his work, he welcomed the new and unseen, while rejecting the perceptions of what art should be, which was something no other artist during his time was willing to do. El Greco is one of the few old master painters who enjoys widespread popularity. Like Johannes Vermeer, Caravaggio, and Sandro Botticelli, he was rescued from obscurity by an avid group of nineteenth-century collectors, critics, and artists and became one of the select members of the modern pantheon of great painters. His works later influenced realist, impressionist, cubist, and abstract painters, including Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, and Paul Cezanne.

Watch the video: Vangelis - El Greco (July 2022).


  1. Raimundo

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  2. Jess


  3. Perkin

    It agrees, this admirable message

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