El Greco (Domenikos Theotokópoulos)
Candia, Creta, 1541-Toledo, 1614
Oil on canvas, 113.8 x 65.4 cm
Contributed by the Provincial Council of Bizkaia in 1920
The Annunciation, another theme very dear to El Greco, is a reduced version of the great canvas kept in the Prado Museum that he painted for the altarpiece of the Incarnation Church in the María de Aragón College in Madrid, commissioned in 1596. The work obeys El Greco’s custom of repeating in small canvases his most successful or favourite works, as confirmed by Pacheco: "He showed me, in 1611 (...) the originals of everything he had painted in his lifetime, (...) in smaller canvases (...)." The painting, another smaller version of which is kept in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, presents an innovative iconography in which the Virgin Mary, surprised by the arrival of the archangel, stands up and turns towards him while a beautiful group of musician angels fills the upper area and a crowd of cherubs make way for the Holy Ghost, symbolised by the rays of light and the dove, indi-cating the moment of the Incarnation. Painted in an extraordinarily free-flowing manner and with a splendid colour range, this is a highly representative late work by El Greco. Domenikos Theotokópoulos was born in Candia, the capital of Crete, where he began training as a painter of icons. After working in Venice he moved to Rome, where he enjoyed the protection of cardinal Alexander Farnesio and was considered to be an "excellent painter". Attracted by the great decorative ensembles of El Escorial, El Greco travelled to Spain in 1577 and settled permanently in Toledo, a cultured and refined city that inspired his best works. [A.S.L.]
Independently of its permanent collection, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum regularly organises temporary exhibition programmes.
Please consult the exhibition calendar for more information about the museum's latest proposals.
Usually classed as a realist painter, Antonio López (born in Tomelloso in 1936) is one of the most idiosyncratic artists at work in Spain after the Civil War. From the 1950s, he has produced drawings, engravings, paintings and sculptures, fashioning an oeuvre of a remarkable technical virtuosity that somehow seems outside time, despite focusing on the realistic representation of living beings and objects. López’s iconographic repertoire always springs from the reality of the visual world and oscillates between scenes of intimacy and the vast outdoors: portraits, still life works, interiors and domestic objects jostle with broad panoramic views.
In 1992 film director Víctor Erice shot the extraordinary El sol del membrillo (The Quince Sun), which concentrates on Antonio López’s creative process, on the intensity with which the artist contemplates objects. This act of rapt attention gives the film a halo of silence and a sensation of time suspended, which moves the viewer to a similar state of meditative absorption. the painter’s highly distinctive use of light contributes enormously to the dreamlike, metaphysical atmosphere, to the suggestion of the visible as a door, slightly ajar, to the invisible.
Despite his realist style, Antonio López has shaped an oeuvre independent from the other, more recent European realist or naturalist trends and from American hyperrealism. What he seeks in the reality that surrounds him are the quotidian aspects that awaken his interest; he works slowly and painstakingly towards his goal of capturing the essence of the sitter or of the objects or the land- and cityscapes portrayed. Curated by historian Guillermo Solana, art director at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, and the artist' s daughter María López, the exhibition will include a very complete overview of the oeuvre of Spanish artist Antonio López.
The selection of around 130 works, oil paintings, drawings and sculptures, represent his most recurrent themes: interiors, where the fantastic and emotive irrupt into daily life, the human figure, landscapes and the famous cityscapes of Madrid and Tomelloso, and his fruit compositions.Although works dated between 1949 and 2010 will be on show, the project concentrates largely on his output from the last two decades, which will include signature works like his earliest, slightly surreal family portraits, the legendary view of Madrid’s Gran Vía and the drawings of his studio. But attention will also be paid to more recent works, some of which are still unfinished and, logically, as yet unseen.
The exhibition as a whole will highlight the slow, meditative process by which Antonio López, one of today’s leading and most admired Spanish artists, arrives at his art.
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