Imagine you are Algur Meadows living in Madrid, Spain 2 months out of every year, developing your oil business in the late 1950's. Across from The Ritz, where you are staying, is the Prado Museum. You fall in love with Spanish art and you have a dream to bring "Prado to the Prairie". The Spanish word for prairie is "prado", so essentially you are bringing the Spanish prairie to the Texas prairie. The very first acquisition you make is an El Greco painting.
Fast forward 50+ years and The Meadows Museum on the SMU campus is a reality and once again, El Greco is the catalyst for a larger undertaking. The original plan of The Meadows Museum being able to borrow El Graco's "Pentecost " from the Prada was the beginning of a 3 year relationship with the Prado Museum in Spain and thus bringing Algur Meadows dream full circle. In addition to exhibiting The Pentecost, a catalog has also been published. Further, there are future plans to loan The Meadows more works of art for a period of 4 months at a time. If that wasn't enough, 6 fellowships have been developed. Three Spanish students will intern at The Meadows and three SMU students will intern at the Prada, over the next 3 years. Algur would be proud.
Domenikos Theotokópoulos, 1541-1614 a.k.a El Greco, was born in Greece but spent the earlier part of his career in Italy before settling in Toledo, Spain. In The Prado Museum there are 34 works by El Greco. Most of these works are religious themes.
El Greco style was unappreciated and dismissed for 300 years. Then in the early 20th century aficionados began regarding his style as modern and contemporary. Thus the subject matter of the second part of the exhibit "Spanish Muse: A Contemporary Response" which explores the influence that El Greco has had on contemporary art.
The Pentecost is quite large and imposing. It was originally part of a massive altarpiece the artist created for an Augustinian seminary in Madrid. The Museum has displayed it underneath a sky light. The natural lighting adds to the intensity of the vivid colors. I asked the curator, Dr Leticia Ruiz Gómez, why there were two women other than Mary, in the painting. Her reply was to state that Martha was at the supper in addition to, what was referred to in the biblical passage as, "other women" . It was unusual to include women in a painting of Pentecost since it was the apostles who were thought to have been given the tongues of fire of the Holy Spirit. I asked also, what was the reason that El Greco painted such elongated figures. Her reply was that El Greco did paint in appropriate proportions but reserved the elongated style to depict divinity. Dr Gómez pointed out to me that the only figure looking at the observer and not to the sky is a self portrait of El Greco himself.
The third portion of the exhibition is "Sultans and Saints: Spain's Confluence of Cultures" which explores the history of Spanish art through a variety of media, including sculpture, manuscripts and paintings. It show the influences on El Greco and his artistic peers at the time of Convivencia or The Counter Reformation . Some of these pieces are on loan from the Birdwell and DeGolyer Libraries, also on the SMU campus.
I know I keep saying this, but Dallas is so lucky to have benefactors that were interested in bringing culture and the arts to our town. It is what makes a good city a great city. Yes, one could go to Madrid and see The Prado, but just for a taste of what that would be like, take time to visit The Meadows Museum. The Pentecost will be on display until Feb 6, 2011.
Bad girl Bynes
Amanda Bynes was arrested after throwing a bong out a window.More crazy antics