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El Greco was a Greek artist whose painting and sculpture helped define the Spanish Renaissance and influence various movements to come.
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Another notable work from this period is View of Toledo (1597), which is considered the first landscape in Spanish art. It is also is one of the only, if not the only, surviving landscape done by El Greco, who rarely strayed from religious subjects and portraits.
El Greco’s later works are marked by exaggerated, and often distorted, figures, stretching beyond the realities of the human body (which is what modern viewers generally have found so appealing). Among them are The Adoration of the Shepherds (1599), Concert of Angels (1610), and The Opening of the Fifth Seal (completed in 1614). Fifth Seal in particular went on to spark great debate, as it has been suggested that it was an influence on Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, often considered the first cubist painting.
El Greco’s effect on Picasso’s evolution is just one thread of his influence. The twisting figures and brash, unreal colors that form the very foundation of El Greco’s art influenced scores of artists, from the cubists following Picasso to the German expressionists to the abstract impressionists after them. His work also inspired those outside the realm of painting, such as writers Rainer Maria Rilke and Nikos Kazantzakis. El Greco died on April 7, 1614, unappreciated in his time, with the art world waiting 250 years before embracing his status as a master.
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