El Greco & Modern Painting

David Bomberg, Hear O'Israel, 1955, oil on wood, 35 1/2 x 27 1/2 inches (The Jew
David Bomberg, Hear O'Israel, 1955, oil on wood, 35 1/2 x 27 1/2 inches (The Jewish Museum, New York)

Julius Purcell reviews the exhibition El Greco and Modern Painting at the Museo del Prado Museum, Madrid, on view through October 5, 2014.

Purcell notes that "there is a wide array of work on display by Manet, Rivera, Bacon, and Pollock among many others. The rediscovery of El Greco in the late 1800s was prompted not just by his spiritual intensity but also by the solid, sculptural nature of his bodies... El Greco projected an idea of suffering that found a deep resonance with German expressionists,” says the exhibition’s co-curator, Javier Barón. Pictures here by Chagall, Jacob Steinhardt and Chaïm Soutine also attest to a similar resonance among 20th-century Jews – not just Jewish painters but critics such as Julius Meier-Graefe, Germany’s foremost champion of El Greco. Hung here, Lovis Corinth’s 1912 portrait of Meier-Graefe has transposed Greco-esque distortion into the modern anxiety that the Nazis so hated, and would later brand as degenerate."