Emil Filla, 'Domenico Theotocopuli El Greco. Notes from an Exhibition of El Greco in Munich'1

By Rampley, Matthew | Journal of Art Historiography, June 2013 | Go to article overview

Emil Filla, 'Domenico Theotocopuli El Greco. Notes from an Exhibition of El Greco in Munich'1


Rampley, Matthew, Journal of Art Historiography


Translator's introduction: El Greco in Prague: modernism and the reception of an Old Master

Emil Filia (1882-1953) was one of the leading modernist painters working in Prague before the First World War. Following a conventional artistic training at the Academy of Fine Art in the city at the beginning of the twentieth century he was, like many of his generation, deeply impressed by an exhibition of work by Edvard Munch in Prague staged in 1905 by the Manes Union of Fine Artists, the leading artistic association of the time. The impact of Munch was evident almost immediately, and starting from 1907, when he painted The Reader of Dostoyevsky, Filia produced a series of works that mirrored the visual lexicon and formal language of the Norwegian artist, intensifying the gloomy symbolist themes of the latter to an almost unbearable degree. Anxious to avoid the limitations of the provincial art world of Prague, he avidly consumed the most advanced artistic practices of the major art centres of the time, culminating in a quite personal appropriation and interpretation of Cubism. He was also a author of essays in art history and criticism, writing on subjects as diverse as Byzantine art, Caravaggio, Daumier, Rembrandt, Impressionism, Munch and, of course, El Greco.2

Although a member of the Mânes Association, Filia was active in the formation of other avant-garde artistic groups, which eventually led to open conflict with Mânes. The first was Osma (The Eight), which he helped found in 1907, and which included other prominent exponents of Czech Cubism, including Bohumil Kubista (1884-1918) and Antonín Procházka (1882-1945). Eater, in 1911, he formed a successor group called the Skupina vÿtvarnÿch umëlcû (The Group of Fine Artists). Skupina also published its own journal, the Umëleckÿ Mesicnik (Art monthly) between 1911 and 1914, and it is from the first volume of that journal that Filla's article on El Greco is taken.

The artists of Skupina did not have a coherent ideology, and this is clear from the pages of the journal, which feature an eclectic range of articles on contemporary by Czech and foreign authors, as well as essays on art history, literary reviews and poems. The choice of visual material in the journal was equally broad, ranging from contemporary art, architecture and design to old masters, African, pre-Columbian and prehistoric art. For all its lack of coherence, this eclecticism revealed how the artists positioned themselves, as exponents of art as a global practice that transcended traditional spatial and temporal categories. It is this interest in the art of the past that makes Filla's essay of significance, for it reveals how a contemporary artist (as opposed to an art historian) made sense of history.

Naomi Hume has recently suggested that the Skupina artists were distinctive precisely in their concern with the history of art, and in this they were strongly informed by the Vienna School.3 A close reading of Filla's article reveals obvious traces of Vienna School thinking; the most striking is his repeated reference to the artistic will (zrule umeleckä) which is a direct Czech translation of Riegl's 'Kunstwollen'. Filla's interest, too, in how El Greco treated spatial relations, bears more than a passing resemblance to Riegl's exploration of figure-ground relations in Late Roman Art Industry. It may seem improbable that a modernist painter writing in an avant-garde periodical would be familiar with a text on a hitherto marginalised art historical topic, but as Hume argues, Skupina artists do appear to have been readers of quite minor writings by Vienna School authors, and work by Riegl had already appeared in Czech translation in other modernist publications; in 1908 the architectural journal Styl had published portions of his essay on monument protection and Pavel Janák, later one of the leading representatives of Cubist architecture in Prague, had also published an article in the same issue advocating the adoption of Riegl's ideas in the treatment of the historic district of Malá Straná in the city. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Emil Filla, 'Domenico Theotocopuli El Greco. Notes from an Exhibition of El Greco in Munich'1
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.