Why does Hellenic Auctions specialize in Greek Art from the 19th and 20th centuries? The reason is simple. It is also incredibly rich, delightful, and profound.
Everyone knows that the history of Greece has its share of breaks. The Eastern Roman Empire, which broke off from the Western Empire in 333 endured a thousand years longer than its counterpart. Then the Ottoman Empire kept Greece away from the artistic currents that blossomed in Western Europe for some 500 years.
In 1824, when Greece finally achieved independence, its artistic scene would execute an almighty leap, going directly from monastic art and religious imagery to Romanticism and neo-classicism. No small matter.
At a time when the Bavarian-born king Otto endeavoured to build a modern Greece that would match his ideals of classical Greece, artists, architects, thinkers were all seeking to promote this continuity. Artistic themes and techniques were inspired from ancient myth and sculpture, as was architecture. The country’s entire artistic establishment was interwoven with Munich, not least via the bursaries granted for those who would study in the Bavarian capital.
Influences from demotic and popular art existed, of course, and constituted another set of “traditions” which would serve as a guiding star. But the first major challenger to the School of Munich was the impressionist movement, which came out of Paris at the turn of the century.
Some of the artists of Munich, like Roilos, encouraged their students to find their own guiding star. Before long, new artistic genres had flourished in Greece; new methods. Impressionism, expressionism, fauvism.. Greek artists expanded their repertoire and exported their particular blend of modernity and antiquity, exhibiting in Venice, New York, and many other places. They opened workshops, some of which still operate, and started art teams. They decorated the state’s official governments with both canvasses and murals. They enriched the newly created National Gallery with their works. They became scenographers and costumers as well.
At the time of writing, it is fair to say that the Greek art scene condenses the country’s history, despite the very short amount of time it has had to do so.
There is of course no way to summarize the wealth of Greek experience in a single page, nor could we say that this or that artist summarizes the Greek artistic scene. Anyway, that is Wikipedia’s job, not ours. To us, each artist is a unique and uniquely rich blend of knowledge and inspiration.That is what we have tried to convey by sharing a few pertinent details about the inspirations and successes of a few of the grandest names.