Modern masterpieces trace contemporary art history in Athens

We rarely get the chance to enjoy the work of truly leading 20th-century artists in Greece, the kind of pieces that paved the way for the world of contemporary visual arts we we know it. With the invaluable aid of the Museum of Modern Art in Saint Etienne, as well as the Pompidou Center and the Picasso Museum in Paris, the B&M Theocharakis Foundation presents an exhibition where the protagonists include Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Fernand Leger, Yves Klein, Max Ernst, Andre Masson, Juan Miro, Jean Dubuffet and Francis Picabia, among others. All in all, «The Eras of the Moderns: From Monet to Yves Klein» brings together 48 European artists and is divided into three main sections: The avant-garde of the 1920 and 1930s, the shapeless and lyrical abstraction of the 1940s and 1950s and the radical realism of the 1960s. According to Dr Lorand Hegyi, director of the Saint Etienne museum and co-curator of the Athens exhibition along with Dr Sania Pappa, breaking down the show into the aforementioned sections is no sign of any didactic disposition. «We aim to promote a dialogue between the periods and the correlations and influences which we recognize among them,» notes Hegyi. As always at the B&M Theocharakis Foundation, the story begins on the fourth floor – as it turns just a year old, the foundation has already accustomed its public to the descending route of its temporary visual arts events. Fernand Leger appears imposing at the far end of the hall, while, on the right-hand side, the audience meets a familiar composition of water lilies as it appears in a round, golden frame – greetings from Monsieur Monet. The abstract takes over the third floor, while, further down, everyday objects and contemporary society, without discarding elements of more traditional art forms, become leading players, both as the subject matter and as materials. This is where the works take on larger dimensions, require more space and touch upon today’s familiar contemporary art. For those who are not frequent travelers, or lack the kind of patience required when reading a comprehensive book on the history of 20th-century art, this particular exhibition has plenty to offer, featuring numerous emblematic examples while also avoiding didacticism. «The Eras of the Moderns: From Monet to Yves Klein,» at the B&M Theocharakis Foundation (9 Vassilissis Sofias & Merlin, tel 210.361.1206), runs to February 22, 2009.