A century of Greek painting

“The beauty of contemporary Greek painting will definitely overwhelm Greek audiences. It even moved Alan Greenspan, director of the US Federal Reserve,» says art historian Mary Michailidi. Michailidi is responsible for the exhibition of contemporary Greek painting that was on display from the end of September until the end of December at the headquarters of the US Federal Reserve in Washington. The theme of the exhibition is «The Emergence of Modern Greek Painting 1830-1930, From the Bank of Greece Collection.» The exhibition opened in Athens on Monday in the Athens Concert Hall’s foyer. Inaugurated by Bank of Greece Governor Nicholas Garganas, this show includes paintings by 13 well-known Greek artists of that period. «The Bank of Greece is one of the few banks in the world that the US Federal Reserve has invited to exhibit works from its collection,» says Michailidi. «Mary Ann Goley, the Federal Reserve artistic director, sent out the invitation when Lucas Papadimas was director of the Bank of Greece. Her own thesis was on the painters of the Munich School, therefore, she can well appreciate Greek paintings of that period. Private collectors’ paintings were also used for the show, since the Federal Reserve does not allow the presentation of works from the collections of private banks.» The works On display are paintings by Nikolaos Gyzis, Georgios Iakovidis, Nikiforos Lytras, Constantinos Maleas, Spyros Papaloukas, Constantinos Parthenis, Yiannis Tsarouchis, Theodoros Vryzakis, Constantinos Volanakis, Ioannis Altamouras, Ioannis Zacharias, Thalia Flora-Karavia, Georgios Economidis, Georgios Moschos, Vicendios Lantsas, Spyros Vikatos, Orestis Kanellis, Dionysios Tsokos and Periklis Pandazis, among others. «It is a very concise display that traces the first hundred years of contemporary Greek painting. It proves Greek art can impress audiences abroad if it is presented accordingly,» says Michailidi. «The bank’s collection started out in 1928, as an effort to support Greek artists. It cannot sufficiently represent Greek art from the period 1830 to 1930, because the bank’s purchases usually reflected the taste of the periodic buyers. We had to borrow works from private collections to include the 20th century into the exhibition.» The exhibition pays tribute to the evolution of Greek art. It starts off with paintings of naval battles, dating to the first years after the Greek War of Independence, and then moves on to the painters of the Munich School, to genre painting and to portraits, and goes as far as the early works of Yiannis Tsarouchis. Apart from the paintings, a collection of engravings is also on display. The Athens Concert Hall is at 1 Kokkali & Vas. Sofias, tel 210.728.2000. To March 30.