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The McNay Art Museum announces Leticia Ruiz Gomez as next Distinguished Lecturer
El Greco (Doménikos Theotokópoulos) and workshop, Head of Christ, ca. 1579–1586. Oil on canvas. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Bequest of Marion Koogler McNay.
SAN ANTONIO, TX.- Leticia Ruiz Gomez is The McNay Art Museum’'s Distinguished Lecturer, presenting El Rostro de Cristo en la Obra del Greco (Christ’s Face in El Greco’s Painting) on Thursday, September 20, 6:30 pm, Chiego Lecture Hall, McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX.

Leticia Ruiz Gómez, Curator, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, Spain, and author of El Greco en el Museo Nacional del Prado catalogue, confirmed that the McNay's painting is largely by El Greco's hand and very beautifully painted. In this lecture, presented in Spanish with simultaneous English translation, Ruiz discusses her research and the McNay's current installation of El Greco's Head of Christ.

Head of the department of Spanish Renaissance painting at the Prado, Ruiz obtained a PhD in art history from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. In addition, she holds a degree in conservation from the Escuela Superior de Conservación y Restauración de Madrid, where she has also taught. In 1998, she joined the staff of the Prado as conservator of Spanish painting and has chaired the department since 2003. The Prado marked the publication of the catalogue El Greco in the Prado with an exhibition of 37signed paintings. Currently, Ruiz is preparing an exhibition focusing on El Greco and his workshop, opening in Toledo, Spain, in 2014 for the 500th anniversary of the artist's death.

ArtDaily had a chance to interview Leticia Ruiz Gómez:

Q:Overall, what is El Greco’s importance during the Renaissance?

A: It really is an ambiguous question: El Greco is one of the most notable and original artist of the Renaissance, however he has only been considered as such since the beginning of the 20th Century, when he was rediscovered by critics and, most of all, by artists of that time. During his life, El Greco’s work did not gain the admiration that it has today. In fact, he did not find space for his art in Venice, nor Rome, nor King Felipe II’s court. On the other hand, in Toledo, Spain, where he lived from 1577 until his death 1614, he gained undoubted fame and recognition, although with some limitations as well.

Q:How many El Greco works does El Museo del Prado hold and what is the importance of this collection?

A: The museum treasures the largest collection of El Greco’s that can be appreciated in one single institution. We have 47 works related to the painter, although some examples are workshop works or copies.

Q:About El Greco’s painting Head of Christ in the McNay’s Collection. What characteristics in the painting lead you to determine that this was, in fact, an authentic work, largely by El Greco’s hand?

A: The pictorial quality is very characteristic of the painter, as well as the intense expression in Christ’s face. I also wish to clarify, that although I was able to see the McNay painting only after its most recent conservation, in which its appearance improved considerably, the painting is well documented in specialized bibliography. The painting had been out of the public’s view for so lo long that it had gone unnoticed and ignored.

Q: What about theories that suggest, El Greco’s elongated figures were the result of El Greco having problems with his sight. Is this so, or did he really just have such a unique style?

A: Theories that suggest El Greco’s style is the result of eye problems are mainly due to ignorance about the artist’s work, and the inability to understand the deeply original quality of this painter’s work, who developed such a personal quality. The elongated style in El Greco’s figures is mainly used when he represents sacred characters. The artist developed his own formulas and style depending on the subject he depicted. The most exemplary work in this respect is The Burial of the Count of Orgaz at the Church of Santo Tomé in Toledo, Spain. In that work, one can appreciate the difference between the representation of characters in the bottom of the painting (of this earth) and the elongated characters in the upper portion (of the heavens). Without a doubt, El Greco’s elongated figures immediately evoke the sense of spirituality that these figures project.

Q:Lastly, what does the future hold for El Greco’s work, any exhibition, Discovery, or study?

A: I recently published an unseen El Greco work in ARS Magazine: Christ Saying Farewell to His Mother, something fantastic, because it is really difficult to find any unknown work by the painter.

I am finishing up the guide to The El Greco Museum in Toledo, Spain. In a little more than a year, the third volume of El Greco’s Catalogue Raisonné—left unfinished by the late Jose Alvarez Lopera—will be published. I am working on the volume, adding notes and an annex. In 2014, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the artist’s death, I will be in charge of mounting an exhibition on the work of El Greco and his workshop.

This lecture is offered in Spanish with simultaneous English translation. Tickets are available for McNay members $10, nonmembers $18, educators and students with an I.D. $5. Reserve space by calling 210.805.1768 or e-mailing education@mcnayart.org.





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