At the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, a major retrospective exhibition of 16th century painter El Greco starts in October. El Greco, whose real name was Domenikos Theotokopoulos, was a native of Crete, but spent half of his life in Toledo, Spain.
Keith Christiansen, curator of the exhibit, says El Greco never abandoned his roots, or his real name.
"Domenikos Theotokopoulos. Greek name, and incidentally, he signed his name in Greek from beginning to end, which I find very fascinating. This means that regardless of where he was: in Venice, in Rome, in Toledo, he viewed himself as a Greek. An outsider."
El Greco is known for his visionary religious paintings and dazzling play of colors. This exhibition will consist of 70 pieces, including his depiction of saints, a selection of his large-scale altarpieces, a representation of his work as a sculptor, his rare excursions into mythological themes, and a selection of his psychologically intense portraits, which were admired by Spanish explorer Velázquez.
"With El Greco you feel you get a psychological depiction of the figure," says Christiansen. Referring to a rather daunting portrait of a Catholic cardinal who was also a grand inquisitor he says, "I think anybody who looks at this picture for a little while begins to feel that they are standing before the Grand Inquisitor and it's not a very comfortable position to be in."
Cowan also takes us to the National Gallery in Washington, where "The Art of Romare Bearden" opens this weekend. Bearden was a 20th century American artist, famous for his collages and paintings that depicted African American music and culture. This exhibition explores the complexity of Bearden's work and the history, literature, spirituality, ritualism that are overlapping themes in his work. Throughout his career, Bearden made associations to music, even in the most abstract of his pieces.
"He depicts jazz and he depicts folk musicians quite often," says curator Ruth Fine. "He worked, I think, in ways that relate to the way jazz music works. He was improvisational in what he did."
Some other fall highlights include Rembrandt in Boston, the seascapes of Manet in Chicago, European Masterworks in Denver, and the works of photographer Edward Weston in Ft. Worth.