When the City of Athens Municipal Gallery?s new premises opened to the public on Metaxourgeio?s Avdi Square recently, the move was hailed by many as marking a new beginning for the rundown area. And so it is.
Situated in a renovated landmark building — part of a complex that constituted the old silk mill and that eventually gave its name to the entire neighborhood — the opening of the museum goes some way toward luring Athenians to rediscover a piece of their city?s long-forgotten cultural heritage. Nevertheless, Metaxourgeio — one of the capitals? more unasavory neighborhoods, which has, however, come under a plan for gentrification in recent years — is not a given destination for many Athenians and the gallery will need to go that extra mile to draw them in.
In this light, the venue?s curtain-raising exhibition, which was inaugurated last month, aims to attract a maximum of visitors. Organized by the City of Athens Cultural Organization, the gallery presents the private collection of businessman George Economou in what is its world premiere. The exhibition is curated by municipal gallery Director Nelly Kyriazi.
Among the gems on display are works by Eugene Delacroix, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin and Egon Schiele. The collection, put together by businessman George Economou, includes a large number of paintings, as well as sculptures and engravings.
On show at both of the municipal gallery?s buildings, the display is a veritable lesson in the history of art and it includes references to landmark visual arts movements ranging from early Modernism to Impressionism and the Vienna Secession, leading to the 1960s and the 1980s. Besides a number of invaluable sketches, the collection includes works by leading Greek artists, such as Giorgos Iakovidis, Nikolaos Gyzis, George Bouzianis, Thanos Tsingos, Mario Prassinos and Theodoros Stamos.
The collection is being presented in two parts: the first, currently on display until April 24, covers ground from the 15th century to the 1920s German movement of New Objectivity. The second part, going on display from May 5 and running to July 3, will showcase works stemming from Surrealism through to the 1980s.
The Municipal Gallery of Athens (32 Myllerou, Avdi Square, tel 210.323.1841) is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.