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Pallas Theater welcomed VIP’s for “El Greco” premiere October 21, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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Recently renovated Pallas Theater welcomed Queen Sofia of Spain and other VIP’s for “El Greco” film premiere

queen_sophia_president_papoulias.jpg  H.M. Queen Sofia of Spain with Greek President Karolos Papoulias at the Pallas Theater.

It had been a while since Athens had seen such a glittering film premiere. The once-regular Monday premieres at the Pallas, Attikon, Rex, Orpheas or Maxim cinemas, with homegrown stars such as Aliki Vouyiouklaki and Elli Lambeti surrounded by Athenian high society of the time, scenes that once drew large crowds, are now only seen in photographs at the Cinema Museum in Thessaloniki.

Now only a win by our National Soccer Team can bring people out into the streets. But a Greek superstar of the past, Domenikos Theotocopoulos, better known as El Greco, managed to attract the Spanish Queen and her sister, Princess Irene, to the renovated Pallas Theater this week for the premiere of a film of the artist’s life by Yiannis Smaragdis.

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his wife Natassa, government Ministers and other officials and politicians were also there, along with Greek composer Vangelis Papathanassiou, who wrote the score, and Cretan singer Loudovikos ton Anogeion, who appears in the film, set on Crete where the artist was born, and in Venice and Spain.

The artist is played by British actor Nick Ashdon, with Juan Diego Botto as Nino de Guevara, a likely contender for an Oscar in a supporting role. Laia Marull plays Jeronima and Dimitra Matsouka plays Francesca.

Related Links > http://www.elgrecothemovie.com

El Greco exhibition opens in Athens, as new film released on Greek-born master October 16, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece, Movies Life Greek.
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Long faces and swirling colors are all the rage in Athens, as a major exhibition on El Greco coincides with the release of a new film on the Greek-born master.

el_greco_painting.jpg  “El Greco and his workshop” brings together 45 oil paintings and other works by El Greco from Museums and collections in Spain, the U.S., Hungary and Switzerland, and opens to visitors on Wednesday.

The show, at the N.P. Goulandris Foundation-Museum of Cycladic Art, focuses on the output of El Greco’s large workshop in Spain, where the painter, whose real name was Domenikos Theotokopoulos, lived from 1577 until his death in 1614.

Spain’s Queen Sofia and Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis were to attend the official opening late Tuesday, 16 October. Queen Sofia also watched Monday’s worldwide first screening of “El Greco”, a Greek film with an international cast that opens in cinemas here on Thursday 18 October. The movie is directed by Yiannis Smaragdis, with a score by fellow Greek Vangelis Papathanassiou, who wrote the Oscar-winning music for “Chariots of Fire”.

el_greco_movie.jpg  Film producers are also organizing an exhibition of costumes and props from the film at Athens’ central Syntagma Square metro station. Most of the paintings at the Cycladic Art Museum are by El Greco’s pupils and assistants, including his illegitimate son Jorge Manuel, who probably joined the workshop in the mid-1590s and eventually became a partner. From his move to Spain in 1577 until about 1588, El Greco worked mostly alone, according to curator Nikos Hadjinicolaou. But popularity brought on a wave of orders that the artist was unable to keep up with single-handedly.

“In order to carry out his commissions, El Greco was obliged to maintain a workshop with assistants who were good enough painters to complete or add to many of the works he personally started, as well as apprentices,” Hadjinicolaou said.

Eight of the works are signed by the master himself, including “St. Veronica with the Holy Shroud” from the Santa Cruz Museum in Toledo and “The Adoration of the Shepherds” from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Born in Crete in 1541, El Greco worked in Italy and Spain. His highly individual art, with elongated figures, vibrant colors and disregard for the classical rules of painting, was prized during his lifetime but later fell out of favor, until it enjoyed strong acclaim in the 20th century.

The exhibition runs until January 5, 2008, although nine paintings will be returned to Spain’s Prado Museum in late November.

Related Links >
The N.P. Goulandris Foundation-Museum of Cycladic Art > http://www.cycladic-m.gr

El Greco official film > http://www.elgrecothemovie.com

Acropolis move > the transfer of the century October 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Arts Museums.
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Transfer of artifacts begins tomorrow > The transfer of antiquities from the old Acropolis to the new Acropolis Museum is set to begin tomorrow in an operation involving three giant cranes that will be used to transport thousands of artifacts. The museum is expected to be fully open to the public by the end of next year.

acropolis_move1.jpg  Ancient masterpieces moving houses. Some stress, others moan as controversial new Acropolis Museum enters final stretch for phased opening starting next year

It’s amply lit, spacious and brand new. But its greatest asset will be over two-and-a-half millennia old. The glass-and-marble purpose-built Acropolis Museum will tomorrow welcome the first of over 4,000 ancient treasures currently waiting in its cramped precursor on the hilltop in the heart of the city.

acropolis_move2.jpg  Following a successful dress rehearsal in front of dozens of anxious pairs of eyes earlier this week, a team of experts is ready to transfer a 2.5-ton marble sculpture, part of a frieze depicting a religious procession honoring Athena, the divine guardian of the ancient city.

Officials certainly hope they have the gods, as well as the weather, on their side. Save some heavy rain and strong winds or some technical snag, the transplant should be completed in six weeks’ time. Costs will hover at 1.6 million euros ($2.2 million), while the priceless antiquities have been insured for 400 million euros ($566 million). The artifacts will be ferried by a crane relay in what will be a meticulous and delicate process. Three 50-meter-tall cranes have been installed between the ancient temple and the new museum. Archaeologists and engineers will hold their breath as the carefully packed masterpieces will soar over the 5th century BC Theater of Dionysos before landing at their new home, which will open its doors in stages, beginning next year.

The modern structure looks like a big spaceship parked on top of the crammed Makriyianni district. Designed by the US-based Bernard Tschumi, it is one of the rare examples of monumental architecture in Greece. And, like most big architecture, it has not been without controversy. Even before the design emerged, there were doubts about the selected spot. The truth is that the decision to have a museum facing the ancient monument came with a hefty price. The building seems to be struggling for space, squeezed as it is within a sea of ugly concrete apartment buildings spread along the southern foot of the hill, as well as the heritage-listed Weiler Building.

Some blocks of flats were actually razed to make room for the gigantic newcomer, often prompting charges of dubious expropriation procedures from the exiled inhabitants. But no issue stirs greater controversy than the planned demolition of two listed buildings next to the entrance of the new Museum, a 1930s art deco structure and a neoclassic house, the property of Oscar-winning composer Vangelis Papathanassiou. The two buildings block the view to the Parthenon from the lower floors of the new Museum and the government insists that they must come down.

But most architects, with a majority of people apparently on their side, are campaigning to save the buildings. Some officials have suggested they may eventually try to preserve the facades and reconstruct the buildings elsewhere. «Demolishing them is unacceptable,» said Stella Ladi, who rents a flat near the site. «A tourist will visit the Museum and perhaps drink a coffee overlooking the Acropolis once in their lifetime. But the locals walk up Aeropagitou Street and see the houses every day.»

Critics say the Museum is too modern and out of tune with the trademark classical style of its impending collection. «The building doesn’t suit its surroundings. It’s ugly, out of place and extremely anti-ecological,» said Christina Karanatsi, who lives in the neighborhood. She fears that the the extensive glass surface implies a power-hungry building that will have a dire impact on the microclimate of the area.

The renowned architect has rejected criticism, at least the aesthetic side of it. «Some people have said it is disrespectful to the Parthenon not to have Doric columns, but I am not interested in imitating the Parthenon,» Tschumi has said, adding that his aim was for modern architecture to match its perfection in its own way.

Others say it’s a beautiful building, expressing the view that the customarily skeptical public will eventually come to embrace the museum. «Greeks are always like that. They never like anything new. But with time, the design will grow on them. I personally think it’s a great building,» said a worker at the site.

acropolis_move3.jpg  Only a few people have had a chance to check out the interior, but those who have agree it is imposing and aesthetically pleasing. Its 20,000 square meters (215,000 square feet) are spread over three levels. The ground floor hovers above the archaeological remains of the ancient neighborhood unearthed during construction. Extensive use of glass flooring incorporates the finds into the museum structure in a near-dizzying effect. The ground level is set to host temporary exhibitions and artifacts retrieved from the surrounding area. The first floor will host the Archaic and Roman galleries, while a bar and restaurant with a great view of the Acropolis will serve visitors on the mezzanine.

The most hyped hall of the museum however is the Parthenon Gallery, sitting on top of the building. A rectangular glass gallery will showcase the temple’s marbles, replicating their exact size and orientation. Visitors will get to see the items as they originally appeared.

But not all of them will be here. Copies of the friezes will be on display behind a symbolic, transparent veil in the place of those showcased at the British Museum in London. The artifacts, also known as the Parthenon Marbles, were removed in the early 19th century by the Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin when Greece was still under Ottoman occupation. Persistent calls for their repatriation since the early 1980s have fallen on deaf ears. Officials hope that the new Museum will help heighten the pressure on Britain to return the marbles, as one of the central arguments for their keeping them hostage, namely superior exposure, has been put to rest. «We are all obliged to intensify our efforts for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum because only then will we have fulfilled our historic duty,» Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said after the test run.