|El Greco painted tucked four of his heroes — Titian, Michelangelo, Giulio Clovio and Raphael — in the lower right corner of “Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple.”
Doménikos Theotokópoulos was lucky when it came to plague.
The painter passed through Venice in 1575, the year the Black Death killed a third of the residents of that crowded maritime port. He was on his way from Rome, where he had studied under the great painter Titian — who himself would soon after die of plague — to Spain, where he would establish his own enduring fame as El Greco, “The Greek.”
But his luck with plagues ran out recently, as a major show of his work, “El Greco: Ambition and Defiance,” opened at The Art Institute of Chicago March 7, only to go dark six days later when the museum closed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
I was fortunate to see the show during the brief span it was open, admiring how it re-united scattered works that had not been in the same room for centuries.
I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for the show’s curators, and wonder: what is it like to dedicate years of your life to such a project only to have it displayed to empty galleries?
“I worked on it a long time,” said Rebecca Long, who curated the show for The Art Institute. “There were a lot of negotiations. Some paintings we weren’t able to get. All in all, solidly worked for four years. ”
To continue reading, click here.