Monday, 1 June 2009

The Greatest?

My English teacher asked me (actually, she asked us all in the class) to write about "who's the best on my field". Ok, but... My field? I suppose it has something to do with Arts, since I study Theory of Art (apart from that, I don't have a job nor anything like that). But, What kind of person in particular? An art historian, critic, or theorist? A philosopher? A man of letters? A musician? From the request for posting some images of his or her works, I deduced that the post must be about an artist in the most common sense of the term: a plastic artist, like a painter, a sculptor, a photographer, or a draftsman, and perhaps a moviemaker.

Well, in any case, it's hard to choose only one who may be called "the best" in his/her field, even in a subjective opinion. Personally, I have a lot of favourite artists, not necessarily between the best or most prominent artist of all times (in Western civilization, of course). Some of them are: Hans Bellmer, Max Ernst, Picabia, Joel Peter Witkin, Georg Grosz, Lucas Cranach, Hans Baldung Grien, Hans Holbein the Younger, Grünewald, Dürer, Giotto, Ingres, Watteau, Bernini, Arcimboldo, Vermeer, Hyeronimus Bosch, James Ensor, Magritte, Hopper, Turner, William Blake, Bramantino, Botticelli, Caravaggio, El Greco, Goya, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Manet, Cézanne, Picasso, Tolouse-Lautrec, Raoul Dufy, Derain, Chaplin, Eisenstein, Basquiat... Norman Rockwell? Why not? (as you can see, most of them are painters).

Now, the canonical artists considered between the greatest of all times, are usually the same as always. I mean, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Tiziano, Caravaggio, Velázquez, Rembrandt, Goya, Rodin, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Picasso... and, among them, some radical transgressors of the Idea of Art, now acclaimed: Malevich, Duchamp, Pollock, Warhol... But: who can I choose as 'the best' without repeating the same names? Hard question. Because all of them are, according to the tradition and the conventions (but also according to solid parameters), great and essential, or at least, very important artists. Ok, I'll choose one significant to me.

And my choice was: El Greco.

Domenikos Theotokopoulos, better known as El Greco was a Greek born artist from the XVIth and XVIIth centuries (Baroque period), who lived most of his life in Spain, where he made his best known artworks. He was one of the most original painters who ever lived, and nowadays his style is still easily recognizable: tall, long figures (some experts believed that it was because of vision problems, and some others even thought that the artist consumed marijuana), delightful and expressive colors, mystical force... He painted some masterworks of all times, such as "El entierro del Conde de Orgaz" (The burial of the Count of Orgaz), "Visión de Toledo" (View of Toledo), and "La visión del Apocalipsis".

I like El Greco because of his unique style, because of his use of colors and lights and shadows, and his creative force, full of mysticism and magnificence. His paintings are very dark, in some way, they have a kind of hidden force that makes them mysterious and charming.

I think that he could be named "the best" because of many reasons. Maybe the main one is that he was an irrefutable and absolutely genial precursor of very later art styles, centuries after he died, and in an unique, unmistakable, original way. His formal and stylistic originality, I think, has almost unprecedented (just a few previous artists can be compared with it: Hyeronimus Bosch, Pieter Brughel the Elder, Michelangelo, Arcimboldo, between them). El Greco prefigured some modern and avant-garde art movements such as Expressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Modernism and Symbolism. His paintings are full of expression, religious sentiment, and force, almost violence. This is why El Greco can be considered, in my opinion, simply "the Best".


  1. Hi Ignacio...Although they are very distant in centuries, cosmovision, and art style, like El Greco, the art of Teotihuacan has unprecedented. And above that, I'm very agree with you, because one can't understand how this was possible in our history, and make me think, at least for those examples, that ancient cultures and some particular artists were definitly wiser than we.

    Kisses, Maca.

  2. oh yeah greco is the best a love his work too