El Greco in multidimensional experience with music, film, opera and a unique altarpiece reconstruction
De Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam has created a multidimensional experience of art, reconstruction, music, opera and film for the sixth edition of the Masterpiece series. Thanks to a generous loan from the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, the masterpiece featured in this edition is Pentecostés (Pentecost) by El Greco, dating from c. 1600. An El Greco in the Netherlands is exceptional. There are very few works in permanent collections and exhibitions are rare. Starting 18 February this extraordinary, expressionist work will be on display in De Nieuwe Kerk for seven weeks. The exhibition will feature a unique reconstruction on canvas of the original altarpiece for which the work was painted.
A life-size representation on canvas of the 2001 reconstruction of the altarpiece will be part of the exhibition in De Nieuwe Kerk. The altarpiece was dedicated in Madrid in 1600 and removed by the Inquisition in 1814. It featured seven works by El Greco, one of which was Pentecost. Each painting depicted an episode in the life of Jesus, with scenes such as the Annunciation, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Pentecost shows the descent of the Holy Spirit on Mary and the apostles like flames of fire. The expressionist nature of this work, the blocks of vivid colour, the unusual vertical composition and the unnatural light reveal El Greco’s unique signature. This powerful work is a perfect example of the highly personal style of his later paintings. The apostle depicted second from the right is presumed to be a self-portrait.
Music and film
Three experts have compiled a special Spotify playlist for Masterpiece to enrich the visitor’s experience. Classical music DJ Von Rosenthal, musicologist Sylvester Beelaert and curator Birgit Boelens have selected inspirational pieces of music that complement the exhibition.
The documentary El Greco: An Artist’s Odyssey is an exploration of El Greco’s artistic life in the later half of the sixteenth century, and takes the viewer on a journey from Greece to Venice and Rome and to Madrid and Toledo.
Opera and lectures
Composer and guitar virtuoso Eric Vaarzon Morel will play a special concert on the evening of Friday 17 March with highlights from his flamenco opera El Greco de Toledo, accompanied by mezzo soprano Eline Welle and Oene van Geel on violin. Inspiring lectures will be given by curator Birgit Boelens (Saturday 25 February) and El Greco expert Eric Storm (Saturday 8 April).
Masterpiece featuring Pentecost by El Greco will be on exhibit at De Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam from 18 February to 9 April.
Van Lanschot Art Prize
The winning entry for the 2016 Van Lanschot Art Prize will also be on show during Masterpiece 2017. Mirjam Offringa’s Het Contact, a three-minute video artwork, shows a carefully scripted scene of what appears to be a coincidental encounter of five people waiting in a metro station. In the jury’s opinion, of all the entries this work best represents the modern zeitgeist.