Art in Greece draws large crowds with high-quality exhibitions all year round

The exhibition «El Greco, Identity and Transformation» that was held in Athens between October 1999 and January 2000 gave the National Gallery a world record – 618,000 tickets sold. Let’s hope that the current exhibition, «Picasso’s Century,» will be as successful. Gallery director Marina Lambraki-Plaka has set her sights on a new record for the gallery’s ambitious new undertaking. Exhibitions of a high standard have brought art lovers to the museums not only during the summer but also – indeed mainly – in winter. The question remains as to whether Greece will continue to present exhibitions of a similar international standard. What is certain is that prospects look very good for the period up until 2004. One swallow doesn’t herald the spring, however. If the National Gallery is famous for successful exhibitions held over the past 10 years – beginning in 1992 with «From Theotokopoulos to Cezanne» – there are a number of central and provincial museums that have been quietly doing a very good job. Topping the list is the Basil and Elise Goulandri Foundation on the island of Andros, which brings out a big name every year, such as Marc Chagall, Giacometti or Henry Moore. Last summer, an exhibition of works by Joan Miro sold 29,800 tickets between the end of June and the end of September, according to figures obtained by Kathimerini. Of these, 85 percent were Greeks, and at least 150 children took part in educational visits. Most Athenians who went to the last exhibition at the National Gallery also visited the Stathatos Mansion to see the Salvador Dali show. The Museum of Contemporary Art at the old Fix factory has had a number of excellent shows that have been «superhuman efforts,» according to its director Anna Kafetsi. The Tsoklis retrospective was visited by 25,000 people and one on the Chinese artist Chen Zen by 10,000, by no means negligible figures considering the museum is only in its second year. This trend looks set to continue. The National Gallery has scheduled an exhibition for October 2003 titled «In the Light of Apollo,» linking ancient Greece and the art of the Italian Renaissance. The Goulandris Museum on Andros is to host a collection of works by Braque in 2003 and Picasso in 2004. The National Museum of Contemporary Art has already announced «Intercultures,» focusing on its permanent collections and works by significant Greek and foreign artists. «Outlook,» the piece de resistance of the Cultural Olympiad, is to breathe new life into the city on the eve of the Games. In October 2003, about 90 artists from around the world, including many famous names such as Gary Hill, Vim Delvoye and Gillian Wearing, are to exhibit their works at Gazi, the Factory and the new Benaki Museum branch on Pireos Street.

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