Institute for Mediterranean Studies

METOPO

From the landscape of the romantics to the land art. Representations of the Greek landscape in the arts from the 18th until the late 20th century (painting, engraving, photography)

The project aims at the systematic recording and study of the pictorial production (paintings, prints and photographs) which is related to the Greek natural landscape from the 18th to the 20th century.

In Greek academic literature, contrary to the international one, there are few studies on how landscape is depicted in the visual arts or on the concept of “landscape” and the historicity of its uses and meanings. However, this lack of research in Greek landscape painting is disproportionate to the attention that the concepts of land and landscape have received at times in relation to the formulation and legitimization of ethnocentric theories and identities, especially those connected to the various versions of “Greekness”, and conceptual representations and stereotypes that visualize the notions of motherland, nation, place of origin and so on. In this context, the project aims at the systematic recording and study of the pictorial production (paintings, prints and photographs) which is related to the Greek natural landscape from the 18th to the 20th century.

The research project is based on three axes:

Ι. The recording of the artistic production that reflects the transition from the imaginary-classical landscape, as it had been originally developed in the 17th century, to the landscape of the Enlightenment and Romanticism, that combines imaginary-ideal representations with the emergence of an interest in archaeology, the journey to Greece, the movement of philhellenism and the first exact topographic depictions of Greek landscape by travelers and painters-travelers. The main research question of this axis of the project is in what way the largely imaginary visual representations of the Greek landscape by Western artists have contributed to the shaping of the pattern of an ideal landscape; in other words, the main question is to what extent these early representations have determined the options, the reception and the rendering of the Greek landscape in the realistic landscape representations that followed.

ΙΙ. The recording and study of landscape representations by the most important Greek and foreign artists after the establishment of the Greek state, when, in the context of the policies that it adopted while organizing itself according to modern European standards, fine arts were systematically cultivated following the aesthetic-artistic tendencies of Western art. The main research questions of this axis are: a) how the interest in landscape painting has been expressed through the reception of the dominant aesthetic and stylistic standards of European art (neoclassicism, academicism, realism, impressionism, symbolism, cubism, expressionism, land art, etc.), shaping and reshaping the relevant conceptual-visual rules of representation of the Greek landscape. b) what is the use and the very meaning of the term “Greek landscape” or “landscape of the Greek land”, taking into consideration the continuous expansion of the territory and the gradual establishment of the institutional framework of the Greek state during the 19th and 20th century.

ΙΙΙ. The recording of photography that has been associated with both the landscape production and the procedures of recording and disseminating information through the mass media. Photography has become a necessary tool for travelers, scientists, artists, tourists, state institutions, etc. The main research question of this axis is how since the mid-19th century the wide use and circulation of photographs has dramatically modified the visual perception of space and led to the establishment of a new visual language, whose impact has been decisive for contemporary postmodern societies, bearing socio-political, economic, scientific and aesthetic meanings.

The project is carried out in the context of the wider interdisciplinary research project of the Institute for Mediterranean Studies/FO.R.T.H., which is entitled “Mediterranean Cultural Landscapes” (METOPO, 2017-2020).

Academic Supervisor Evgenios D. Matthiopoulos (Professor of History of Western Art, Department of History and Archaeology, University of Crete)

Research team

  • Titina Kornezou (Assistant Professor in Art History, Department of History and Archaeology, University of Crete)
  • Poppy Sfakianaki (Ph.D. candidate, Department of History and Archaeology, University of Crete)
  • Marianna Karali (Ph.D. candidate, Department of History and Archaeology, University of Crete)
  • Myrto Geroulanou (Postgraduate student, Department of History and Archaeology, University of Crete)
  • Anna Adraskela (Postgraduate student, Department of History and Archaeology, University of Crete)

Deliverables

  • The construction of a bilingual (Greek-English) open-access database of works of art that represent the Greek landscape of the period from the 18th to the end of the 20thcentury (paintings, engravings, photographs).
  • Publications in academic journals by the members of the project team, based on material collected in the context of the project.

Project Team

Eugenios D. Matthiopoulos

Professor - History of Art
Department of History and Archaeology, University of Crete
Curriculum vitae

Poppy Sfakianaki

PhD candidate
Department of History and Archaeology, University of Crete

Marianna Karali

PhD candidate
Department of History and Archaeology, University of Crete