El Greco, architeto de retablos / El Greco, architetto di altari
Fotografie di Joaquín Bérchez
28 February - 14 June 2015 - extended to September 6


To mark the fourth centenary of the death of Doménikos Theotokópoulos called El Greco (1541-1614), this exhibition illustrates a little-known chapter in the career of the great painter: his work as an architect in the art of retablo, i.e. altar designs.

Having trained first in Crete and then in Venice and Rome, in 1577 El Greco moved to Toledo. In the Spanish city the system of producing images was different from the Italian approach and the artist not only made paintings but also the large altars which framed them – the retablos.

Together with his son Manuel, he designed, carved the assembled structure and did the gilding work on the architectural elements round the altarpieces. El Greco stood out for his personal style and a special taste in the use of burnished gold, which had learned in his early years of training in Crete. He reinterpreted the innovative architecture seen during his stays in Venice and Rome (particularly the works of Andrea Palladio and Michelangelo) and adapted it to the usages and modes of Spanish architecture.

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Joaquín Bérchez reveals El Greco’s deep knowledge of architecture in the language of his retablos and the plastic values informing them, thus shedding light on a highly original and little-known aspect of the multifaceted artistic personality of El Greco. Bérchez is a renowned historian of Spanish architecture and for many years he has also been a professional photographer. The two activities complement each other: Bérchez uses photography as a medium to narrate and visually recreate architecture and landscapes.