This is a blog I had a lot of fun doing. If there's one thing in the world I love, it's Art. I love beautiful paintings and will travel far distances to see great works. So in preparing this blog, I learned a few things for myself about a work of art that I love.
EL GRECO – VIEW OF TOLEDO (in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
When I grew up on Long Island, for many years I had a print of this painting thumbtacked to my bedroom wall. I presume I got it on a family trip into the City to the Met.
Something about this painting, this view, always touched me, and the feeling really hasn't changed over the years. Of course, I'm not alone in this. This painting is one of the most famous depictions of the sky in all of Western art and one of the Met's greatest treasures. It is one of the artist's only two surviving landscapes (there is another view of Toledo in the El Greco Museum in Toledo) and is the first landscape ever by a Spanish artist.
What did I like about this painting when I was young? That it was "spooky" and "eerie" and "haunting?" This was probably during my Poe phase, so that might have been the case. But it also could have been that the painting is just surpassingly beautiful.
What is stunning about El Greco – and what testifies to his unique greatness – is that he was a contemporary of Shakespeare. He painted the "View of Toledo" in about 1599, the same year that Shakespeare wrote "Much Ado About Nothing." Very few painters are as far ahead of their time as El Greco was. Centuries ahead!
As the English artist and critic Roger Fry put it, El Greco was "an old master who is not merely modern, but actually appears a good many steps ahead of us, turning back to show us the way."
Someday I'll have to go to Toledo and see "The Burial of Count Orgaz," El Greco's massive masterpiece. Next trip to Spain.
I'll do more of these. Just not now.