Grand Palais, Paris, through February 10, 2020; Art Institute of Chicago, Mar. 5–June 21, 2020
Born in Crete when the island was under Venetian rule, the painter eventually known as El Greco (1541–1614) moved first to Venice, then to Rome, before settling permanently in Toledo, Spain, in 1577. Along the way, influenced by senior contemporaries Titian, Tintoretto, and Michelangelo, he transformed himself from a painter of traditional Byzantine icons to one of the most stylistically distinct artists of all time. Known for his elongated, writhing figures and stark lighting effects, El Greco enjoyed considerable success in his lifetime (although a midcareer financial dispute led to his being denied future ecclesiastical commissions). Thereafter, his reputation sank for three centuries—perhaps because he was seen as torn between Renaissance and Mannerist-Baroque aesthetics—until it was revived by scholars, curators, and appreciative modern artists like Picasso. The survey presents some sixty works including such key paintings as Assumption of the Virgin, Saint Martin and the Beggar, and Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata.