CULTURE

‘Greek Doors,’ the subject of a photo album

As high maintenance costs on old buildings and the use of land for more profitable real estate ventures are causing many traditional old buildings to be torn down and replaced by apartment buildings, a book that illustrates doors from old buildings around Greece offers valuable documentation. «Greek Doors,» published by Potamos Publishers in two separate Greek and English editions, is a photographic album on a project that Costas Vrettakos, the filmmaker and expert on cinema administration, and Milan-born Emmanuela de Nora, a former editor of fine arts publications, undertook in the 1980s. Driven by sentiment rather than any aim to document and study Greek doors, they traveled all around Greece photographing doors as varied as the entrance to the Mycenaean tomb of Atreus, church and monastery doors, stately doors of urban neoclassical buildings and carved portals of castles to the more ordinary, vividly colored doors of Cycladic island homes. In answer to the lack of specialized photographic albums in the field of publishing at the time, the two photographers founded their own publishing house and released «Greek Doors» followed by other photo albums on Greece. The most recent Potamos publication is based on the original book – which has been out of print for years – but has an entirely new layout. More than two decades since the original publication, it also has different relevance today. With the exception of the photographers’ prefaces, there is no written text and no analysis on the stylistic traits of the doors. The only information is provided by the images’ captions, which were compiled with the help of architect and painter Pericles Panteleakis. The book’s visual diversity is one of its most interesting aspects. It allows for comparisons and reveals the imagination and craftsmanship that people have put into designing the entrances to their homes and their public buildings. Leafing through the book, one also begins to sense the symbolic value of doors, their central role in defining a building’s architectural style and their mysterious hint at that which lies behind closed doors. It was this sense of mystery that partly inspired Vrettakos and de Nora to begin their project and to actually start working with photography more closely. In «Greek Doors» this comes across, as does a visual array of stylistic variations and decorative styles.