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The Greek Pavilion
Wednesday, 02 February 2011 14:20

The Greek PavilionGreek participation in the Venice Biennale and government intervention in Art during the 1930s.

“The politicians of this country have been very careful, whenever organization change or the replacement of specific persons is taking place, policy solutions along general lines which are accordance with the proposals of the artists whom they favour”. 

(Michalis Tombros, “The State and Art” Voice of the People newspaper, 14 January 1932. 

When Venizelos returned triumphantly to power in 1928, the Liberals did not hesitate to make a determined – in effect, dictatorial - intervention in the direction of implementing their plans for the modernising of the visual arts. The dismissal of Yeorgios Iakovidis from the post of Director of the National Gallery - during their first period in office, in 1918, at the time when the National Gallery’s Regulations were published[1] - did not satisfy them. Indeed, in view of the stratagems implemented by the teaching staff of the school of Fine Arts in electing Nikolaos Lytras instead of Konstantinos Pathenis in 1923, in appointing Dimitris Biskinis by bureaucratic sleight of hand in 1928[2] and in electing Umvertos Argyros in 1929[3], Ministerial intervention in the School seemed the only way out.
Law 4366/1929[4] formed the basis for this intervention. Not only did it give the Minister the power to appoint the Director and teachers of the school by decree: under Articles 3 and 4 of the Law, which were obvious contrivances designed specifically to allow the appointment of Kostas Dimitriadis as professor and Director and Konstantinos Parthenis as professor, gave legislative protection to the dependence of Modern Greek art upon that of Western Europe, since those to be appointed were required to have distinguished themselves in official exhibitions abroad and to have lived for at least ten years in international art centres[5]. It was thus clear that Greek artists were being recommended to orientate themselves towards the aesthetic views predominant in other countries, since only such an alignment could bring about distinction in the official exhibitions held there and, subsequently, the election to the staff of the School by which so much store was set. In implementation of this Law, the decree appointing Parthenis to the School was issued in November 1929[6], and was followed shortly afterwards - on the personal request of Venizelos – by the appointment of Dimitriadis as professor and Director[7]. Apart from reorganising the School to an extent unparalleled either before or since, Dimitriadis also undertook the task of arranging the Greek participation in the Venice Biennale[8], which was to involve him in a great deal of hard work.
Greece must have been invited to Venice as far back as the VI Biennale in 1904[9], but despite the promptings of the Press that “it should be known in Greece how much significance is attached in other countries to artistic production[10]” and that wish that “those in power should realise the importance of the artistic education of the people for the more general rise of a Nation[11]”, those in power in Greece had no inclination whatever to bear the cost of organising the Greek contribution. In 1925, Fotis Yofyllis conducted an extensive investigation of the matter and published in the columns of the newspaper Proia interviews with a number of Greek visual artists. They all drew particular attention to the question of the general indifference of the State to the fine arts and stressed the dimension of national prestige which would stem from participation in the Biennale[12]. If we appear there, said Constantine Maleas, that will be progress for Art in this country. We will see what the have to say about our works. Here, the circle of artists is a narrow one and our work cannot be judged. If the State is in any way sensitive towards such issues, it ought to help, since the other Balkan countries are usually relatively well represented at that exhibition. Furthermore, I know that this exhibition is of the greatest importance for world art”[13]. Periklis Lytras was quoted as saying, “A clerk told me that the Ministry of Finance will approve a sum of money for our artists to participate […] because all the Balkan States will be participating in these [exhibitions]… Even if only one Greek talent emerges, that will be equivalent to a military victory. Was Dimitriadis’ success in Paris not worth a victory in battle?[14]
The late 1920s were, of course, a period in which national disputes were settled peacefully rather than by military conflict, and for that reason the assistance of  Kostas Dimitriadis was needed to give a cultural dimension – and, in effect, sole proof of existence - to the pact of friendship between Greece and Italy which Venizelos and Benito Mussolini signed on 20 September 1928, as part of Venizelos’ efforts to partially disengage Greece from the influence of the Great Powers [15].
The Italians undertook the obligation of opening a cultural centre – the Casa d’ Italia – in Athens, while Dimitriadis, with the unreserved support of Foreign Minister Andreas Michalacopoulos[16], went ahead with the construction of the Greek pavilion for the Biennale. He had the competitions for the pavilion annulled[17] and took care to ensure that the commission for its design went to an architect friend of his, Papandreou[18], who lived in Paris. The pavilion was built in a neo-Byzantine style, a decision in which we should detect not only an answer to the neo-Renaissance style of the Italian Institute and the desire to demonstrate Greece’s independence of European Modernism, but also a tone directly reminiscent of the Byzantine dimension of Hellenism or of the “Greekness” of Byzantium. This issue was highly topical in Greece at the time and constituted an extremely controversial historical question because of the nationalist antagonism which continued to be acute in the Balkans ever after the First World War[19].
Construction work on the pavilion began in September 1931, and the foundation stone was laid by Michalacopoulos in person, in his capacity as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister[20].
However, the economic crisis prevented the work from being completed before 1934, and as a result the planned Greek participation in the 1932 Biennale had to be deferred[21]. If Italy had no been at this time so strong in the Balkans as was actually the case, and had there been delays in the building and operation of the Italian cultural institute in Athens[22], it seems certain that there would have been a risk of Greece failing to take part even in the 1934 Biennale: the machinery of state had been paralysed to a large extent by the Depression, the fall from power of the Venizelist (Liberal) party, governmental instability, the revival of the question of the monarchy after the failure of the coup d’etat against Venizelos, and the more general and continuing political and social crisis.
In 1934, after the Biennale had organised a second exhibition in Athens (1993) – accompanied by Marinetti himself[23] - Greece officially took part for the first time in the Venice exhibition.
It is worth noting at this point that, of the six exhibitions by other European states held in Greece in the pre-War period, three were of Italian art and were organised by the Venice Biennale[24]. As a result, modern art as a whole was blamed both for the bombastic and provocative manner of Marinetti and for the relatively poor quality of the exhibits. The Italian Week of 1931 and the Futurist exhibition of 1933 - with its aeropitturas – were more successful in causing wry comment than in improving, as was their aim, the image of Italy current in Greece The exhibition of engravings by Soviet artists held at the Atelier Gallery in 1934, on the other hand, caused a sensation in Athens[25]. Thus, the exhibition in 1938 to which the introduction was written by Antonio Maraini, Secretary–General of the Biennale, consisted of engravings and decorative works which were in line with the tendency for a “return to good order” current more generally in Europe at the time and satisfied the preference for representational art which had always been predominant in Athens[26]. Greek participation in the 1934 Biennale could be described as the first official Greek representation at an international exhibition elsewhere in Europe since Rome in 1911. The “confrontation” between Modern Greek art and European art which Konstantinos Maleas had called for began, in effect, at this time: thereafter, with the exception of the period of the War, Greece was regularly present in Venice.
Before 1934, we know of only three unofficial Greek participants: Alexandros Mavrogordatos in 1910[27], Cesare Sofianopoulos in 1924[28] and Dimitris Cocotsis in 1926[29].
In 1934, the newly – built Greek pavilion housed what was in effect a Panhellenic exhibition in miniature, with a total of 165 works by 55 painters and engravers and 10 sculptors[30].
The selection committee for this massive team of representatives consisted of Antonios Benakis, Nikos Calogeropoulos and Oumvertos Argyros, who were assisted by various art organizations[31]. The number of Greek participants should be attributed to their conciliatory desire to place everyone, but they failed miserably to please the Italians[32]. The presence of the Greek artists went almost unnoticed, and very few works were sold[33]. Michalis Tombros, who was engaged at the time in a battle in the Press with Kostas Dimitriadis, in his attempt to be appointed to a teaching post in School of Fine Arts, launched a violent attack on this state of affairs in the columns of the last issue of his short- lived periodical 20th Century[34]. His target was not only the number of the Greek representatives, but also the conservative inclinations of the artists concerned.
In 1935, there was a special Exhibition in Venice on the subject of the 50th anniversary of the Biennale; this took place as the Italian army was readying itself to invade Ethiopia in the teeth of opposition from the League of Nations, which imposed sanctions on Italy. Greece took no official part in the Exhibition[35], and played a leading role both in having the League of Nations vote for the sanctions and in implementing them[36].
In 1936, with the restoration of the monarchy, it appeared for a short time as if the conservative faction was going to triumph. The members of the Art Group did not take part in that year’s Biennale, and so the Greek pavilion was dominated by the works of Vikatos, Argyros, Thomopoulos, Zairis, Cosmadopoulos and other scions of the Munich School or timid impressionists who were pupils of the Grande Chaumiere[37]. The Biennale committee was chaired by Crown Prince Paul, and, as we are told by the exhibition catalogue, “Prince Nicholas was pleased to send some of his own works”[38]. Some informal settlement may have been reached, since in the same year the Greek artists who took part in the official exhibition in Sofia were all members of the Art Group[39].  This exhibition, held under the auspices of Popov, the Bulgarian Minister of Education, was organised so as to demonstrate “the distance which had been traveled between the regrettable past and the excellent results which we see today as G. Radev[40] stated at the opening ceremony, in reference to the recent friction between Bulgaria and Greece caused by the Balkan Wars and also by Bulgarian opposition to the Balkan Pact which Greece has succeeded in having signed in 1934[41].
In the following year, Greece took part in the Paris[42] International Exposition, where, apart from Vikatos, the exhibitors included painters who had studied in Paris end represented modernism in the Greece of the time. Artists such as Parthenis, Galanis, Gounaropoulos, Apartis, Ghikas, Vasileiou, Tombros, Theodoropoulos and Asteriadis made up the avant- fared in the visual inquiries of Greek artists[43].
The reorganising role of the Metaxas dictatorship, connected with its policy of reorganising the Venizelist machinery of state, had far- reaching consequences for the Greek participation in the Venice Biennale[44].
The way in which the Fascist state absorbed intellectuals has already been noted by commentators on this period[45], and, of course, attention has been drawn to the presence of Pantelis Prevelakis in the Directorate of Fine Arts of the Ministry of Education[46]. Prevelakis, who had failed to be elected Professor of Art History at the University of Thessaloniki, used his position in the Ministry in order to have him self elected to a post position in the School of Fine Arts[47]. However, his activities in the Ministry were beneficial to the visual arts. In May 1937, the government had issued a law without precedent or successor in Greece, “concerning the formation of a Standing Committee for the Venice International Art Exhibition”. The first article of this law fixed the number of members of the committee at five, and determined the capacity of each: “a) a distinguished art-lover; b) the Director of fine Arts of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Education; c) the Director of the School of Fine Arts; d) the Director of the National Gallery, and e) a painter recommended by the Federation of recognised art organisations in Greece”[48].
The revitalising and modernising intervention of the liberals now acted through the formal bureaucratic structure which they had introduced, since they were in the majority on the Standing Committee. The selectors for the 1938 Biennale, the first at which Greece was respectably represented – by Parthenis, Tombros and Theodoropoulos[49] - were Zacharias Papantoniou, Dimitriadis, Benakis, Prevelakis and Kostas Pangalos. In 1940, almost the same committee (with A. Stratigos in the place of Papantoniou) selected A. Asteriadis, M Vitsoris, I. Mitarakis and P. Rodokanakis in painting, B. Raftopoulou, K.Papachristopoulos and G. Zongolopoulos in sculpture, and D. Yanoukakis, A. Koroyannakis and E. Papadimitriou in engraving[50]. In an article in the periodical Nea Estia, Prevelakis wrote of the Greek exhibitors, “the three artists who are showing their works this year are of particular interest to the art historian in that all three find themselves under the auspices of modernism. They are modernists in the sense that, having escaped from the Munich School, whose tradition they played a part in severing… they  have turned in the direction of the achievements of contemporary Western art…”[51]. In 1938, Franco’s Spain managed to reply to the triumph scored by Guernica in Paris a year before by winning the Venice Biennale prize with Ignacio Zuluaga, thus disappointing the Greeks, who had hoped that Parthenis would distinguish himself. In 1940, the Greeks went to Venice under the dark shadow of impending war[52].
However, it is easy to discern in the choices of artists made for 1938 and 1940 that the battle between Academists and Modernists which was raging in Athens at the time was very clearly turning in favour of the later, with state intervention[53]. A closer look will reveal, behind the selection for 1940, the dynamic rise of a new generation of artists who in painting, under the influence of Galanis, had been led to the chiaroscuro of the palette of Derain, and in Sculpture, influenced by Dimitriadis, Tombros and Apartis, in the direction of the students of Rodin: Bourdelle, Despiau and Maillol.
In a survey conducted by the newspaper Imerision Kirix, young students such as Yannis Moralis stated “their preference for the Classical artists of the Renaissance”[54], and their inclination in the direction of Oumvertos Argyros’ studio should be comprehended in this more general atmosphere then predominant in Western Europe[55]. The advice and warning issued by Christian Zervos was heeded only insofar as the “formalism” of abstract art was concerned: “above all, avoid guiding Greek artists in the direction of imitation and towards the West. Teach them the profound principles which govern the art of the West, but prevent them from confining them selves to the formalism of that art. The Greeks ought to be inspired, above all, by the great principles of the ancients – that is grandeur of conception, profundity of thought, and perfection of execution”[56]. But the West was inevitably a model for Greece, and the question was, which of the Western models would be assimilated.
As we look at the work of young artists of the period - Iliadis, Moralis, Spyropoulos, Malamos, Kontopoulos, Kanellis, Rengos, Nikolaou, Frantziskakis, Tsarouchis, Almaliotis, Vasilikiotis, and others – we can see clearly the powerful influence and the atmosphere of “la sobrieté et la mesure” which Apollinaire detected in Derain. The situation was much the same in sculpture. Like their contemporaries in painting, Kapralos, Papas, Papachristopoulos, Raftopoulos, Falireas, Ferentinis, Zongolopoulos, Makris, Loukopoulos, Perantinos, Lameras and others worked within the Parisian spirit which was more familiar and “classic” for them, displaying little interest in the work of Zadkine, Moore, Archipenko or Brancusi, with the exception of one aspect of the multi-faceted work of Tombros. It was only in engraving that the woodcuts of Yorgos Economidis demonstrated that Expressionism was not entirely unknown in Greece before the arrival of Bouzianis.
By this time, there can be no doubt that modern Greek art looked to Paris for schooling and as a measure of comparison, and its complete harmonisation with Parisian concerns prevented artists such as Spyros Papaloukas[57], Fotis Kontoglou or Yorgos Bouzianis - clearly much more mature than their contemporaries – from taking part in the major exhibitions abroad and, of course, ensured that they were barred from the School of Fine Arts. The essential criterion was not quality, or authenticity, or even modernism, but synchronisation[58]. The inter-War period in Greece was not just one in which innovators and conservatives clashed, or in which there was a complete and final shift from Munich to Paris: it was also the period in which abstract art was rejected and the avant–garde was surpassed without any experience being gained from it. The debate over the work of Steris shows that, in effect, only Dimitris Pikionis was capable of comprehending Derain and denouncing him as bringing an age to an end[59]. It also demonstrated that the modernising trend of the early years of the century, as expressed by the pen of Papantoniou, was already obsolete. Papantoniou represented the spirit of pure rationalism, of the Enlightenment: he was rigorous, concise, exact, absolute and transparently clear[60]. His interlocuters were not capable of putting together a uniform point of view, but they reveal the break–down of bourgeois thought, of positivism, into a series of opposites and derivatives, with idealism, Marxism, Hellenocentrism, internationalism, objectivism, subjectivism, mysticism and scientism allying themselves – often in the thought of the same author – against the art critic, going very clearly beyond the virtues of Steris’ work if not his intentions[61]. In fact, the avant-garde periodical Trito Mati (“Third Eye”) was unrivalled in the inter-War period and the only artistic manifestoes to be issued were those of the academist painters and the young realists[62]. Kontoglou had already begun to publish fiery articles attacking the “ultra-modernists”[63], as the ideology of “Greekness” which was to become predominant after the War gained greater and greater maturity. Thus, be the late 1930s, when Ghikas and Diamantopoulos had abandoned their initial investigations into the abstract and Steris had departed to seek his fortune in the USA, only Theotokas’ fictional hero Leonis was left in Greece with the wish “to give himself up completely to the magic of colours, to swim through the colours at random, regardless of the outcome; for him, and only for him, the question was one of stirring the colours up together, letting them dance, and wander as the chose, until they came together in a colour composition like beautiful music, a game for the eye which represented nothing, just as music represents nothing[64].

Evgenios D. Matthiopoulos 

Associate Professor of Art History
Department of History and Archaeology, University of Crete



[1] Marinos Kalligas, Η Εθνική Πινακοθήκη, Athens 1976, π.6.S. Skipis quotes Iakovidis as complaining that the had “booted him out like an unwanted dog” and he accused the State of never having granted him a person for his 20 years of service – a failure which caused his first attack of apoplexy a year before his death. See S. Skipis, “Ο Δάσκαλος” Βραδυνή newspaper, 14 December 1932, and Anonymous, Γεώργιος Ιακωβίδης, Έθνος newspaper 14 December 1932.

[2] For the election of Nikos Lytras , see Antonis Kotidis, Για τον Παρθένη Tessaloniki 1984, p.29. D. Biskinis was appointed Professor of “Decoration and Perspective” By the Decree of 18 June 1928 (Government Gazette 97, 26 June 1928), having been chosen through a competitive process organised by the school, and was given the rank of Head of Section Second Class. Later, by the ministerial Act of 19 September 1930 (Government Gazette 178, 19 September 1930), he kept his post in the School, but at the rank of Director First Class and not that of “Areopagite” or Technical University Professor, as was the case with the rest of the teaching staff.

[3] Argyros was also appointed Professor of Drawing by Decree (that of 14 September 1929, Government Gazette 156, 8 October 1929), after a competitive procedure and was appointed Head of Department Second Class. He, too, kept his post in the School but was given the rank of “Areopagite”

[4] Government Gazette 285, 16 August 1929; see also the letters of Zacharias Papantoniou to Kostas Dimitriadis in E. Kasdaglis, Γιάννης Κεφαλλινός, ο χαράκτης, Athens 1991, pp. 214-224.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Decree of 13 November 1929, Government Gazette 212, 11 December 1929.

[7] Decree of 14 July 1930, Government Gazette 145, 31 July 1930; this Decree also relieved Yeorgios Iakovidis of the post of  Director of the School

[8] The Venice Biennale, that cosmopolitan offspring of internationalization and modernism, was born in 1985 and was the Municipality of Venice’s contribution to the festivities to mark the unification of Italy and the marriage of King Umberto I to Queen Margaret of Savoy. Under the Fascist regime of Mussolini, the Biennale was radically re0 organised and, through the relationship between Fascism and Futurism, developed into a centre for the presentation of modern trends in the visual arts, as well as serving as o major international exhibition. See Lawrence Alloway, The Venice Biennale 1895-1968, London 1968, and Paolo Rizzi, Enzo Di Martino, Storia della Biennale 1895- 1982, Milan 1982.

[9] Anon., καλλ. Έκθεσις, Πινακοθήκη magazine, no. 44, October 1904, p.158.

[10] Ippokratis Karavias, Η Kαλλιτεχνική Έκθεσις της Βενετίας, Πινακοθήκη magazine, no 106, December 1909, p. 189.

[11] Anon., Η Kαλλιτεχνική Έκθεσις της Βενετίας, Πινακοθήκη no 136-137, June-July 1912 , p. 90.

[12] All these interviews were conducted by Fotis Yoffyllis and were published in the newspaper Proia: Η ζωγραφικής μας και η Έκθεσις της Βενετίας. Συνέντευξις με τον κ. Ε. Θωμόπουλο, 25 November 1925. Το κατηγορητήριον των ζωγράφων κατά της Κρατικής αδιαφορίας. Συνέντευξις με τον ζωγράφον κ. Γ. Ροϊλον, 4 December 1925. Πως φροντίζουν τα Κράτη δια την Τέχνης και πως ημείς. Τι λέγει ο κ. Θ. Θωμόπουλος:, 6 December 1925. Το Κράτος και Τέχνη μας. Τι λέγει ο ζωγράφος κ. Ν. Λύτρας, 10 December 1925; Το Κράτος και οι εκθέσεις. Τι λέει ο Πρόεδρος των Καλλιτεχνών, 14 December 1925; Δεν έχομεν αλληλοβοήθειαν.  Συνομιλία με  τον γλύπτη κ. Ζευγώλην, 18 December 1925; Η Εκκλησιαστική Τέχνη. Τι λέγει ο κ. Δήμας, 19 December 1925; Δεν έχομεν Κρατικήν Πολιτικήν. Τι λέγει ο κ. Μαλέας, 24 December 1925; Αι γνώμαι των ζωγράφων, 29 December 1925; Να οργανωθούν οι ζωγράφοι. Τι λέγει ο κ. Π. Λύτρας, 30 December 1925; Τα ζητήματα της ζωγραφικής. Τι λέγει ο ζωγράφος κ. Ροϊμπης , 7 January  1926, αnd F. Yofyllis, Η έρευνά μας δια τα καλλιτεχνικά ζητήματα, 10 January 1926.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] For the pact between Greece and Italy, see p.N.Pipinelis, Ιστορία της Εξωτερικής Πολιτικής της Ελλάδος 1923-1941, Athens 1948, p. III-146; Κ.Α.Κaramanlis, Ο Ελευθέριος Βενιζέλος και οι εξωτερικές μας σχέσεις 1928- 1932, Athens 1986, pp. 52-57; K. Svolopoulos, Διπλωματική ιστορία της Ελλάδος 1900-1941, Thessaloniki 1980, pp, 184-187; C.Z.Sazanidis, Ξένοι Βάσεις και πυρηνικά στην Ελλάδα / Η Ελλάδα και οι σχέσεις μας με τις μεγάλες δυνάμεις 1821-1981, Thessaloniki 1985, pp. 97-100, and D. Kitsikis, Ελλάς και Ξένοι 1919-1967, p. 106.

[16] The correspondence between Dimitriadis and the administration of the Biennale must have begun on 3 October 1929 ant the latest; see a typed latter in French, signed by Dimitriadis and headed Paris, 28 October 1929. It is addressed to Antonio Maraini, General Secretary of the Venice International Exhibition (“Serie Scatole Nere/Padiglioni”, busta II, Grecia 1922-1938”, fasc. “Grecia costruzione dei Padiglioni”, ASAC (Archivio Storico delle Arti Contemporanee, Venice). Oficial correspondence between and Italy must have began in June 1929; se the typed letter in Italian signed by the Greek Consul-General in Venice, dated 28 June 1929, to Count Zorgi, Commissioner Extra – Ordinary of the Municipality of Venice, ASAC, op. cit. For the personal intervention of Andreas Michalakopoulos, see the unsigned copy of a typed letter in French from the Administration of the Biennale, headed Venice, 5 August 1931, and addressed to Foreign Minister Andreas Michalakopoulos (3ff, ASAC, op.cit.).

[17] The following news item appeared in the newspaper Eleftheron Vima on 12 May 1931: “It is hereby announced the second competition proclaimed for the Greek pavilion at the Venice international exhibition has been cancelled. From the Office of  the School of Fine Arts”.

[18] See the typed, signed letter in French from Dimitriadis, headed Paris, 28 August 1931, to Maraini (2ff, ASAC, op.cit.) and N. Calogeropoulos, “Padiglione della Grecia” in the catalogue XIX Esposizione Biennale Internazionale d’Arte Venice 1934, p.339. We know that Y. Papandreou was from Patra, but there in no evidence of a family connection with George Papandreou, then Minister of Education. In 1926, we find Papandreou as a participant in a exhibition organised by the Association des artistes et gens des letters Héllènes de Paris, whose President was Dimitriadis, see the catalogue, Exposition d’ un groupe d’ artistes Héllènes de Paris, 1-20 March 1926, Galerie Charles Brunner, Parris, nο 73, P Haris, Το Ελληνικό Περίπτερο στην Έκθεση της Βενετίας, periodical, Nea Estia no. 278, 15 July 1938, pp. 987-990.

[19] At this time, the views of A. Zachos on a neo – Byzantine architecture were particularly influential; see D. Filippidis, Νεοελληνική Αρχιτεκτονική, Athens 1984, pp.205-208.

[20] This emerges from the photographs of the foundation – stone ceremony kept in the ASAC (op. cit). It was during Michalakopoulos visit to Venice that he made the speech entitled “Byzantium and Venice” which the Italians, well aware of his passion for books, published in luxury edition under the title Venezia e Bisanzio (ed. Augustea, Rome 1932), with a foreword by Guiseppe Volpi. See also the Greek edition, Ενετία και Βυζάντιο, Alexandria 1934. When this speech was reprinted Λόγοι ΙΙ, Athens 1964, p880), it was accompanied by a note of its delivery on 27 September 1931, a date which allows us to place it shortly before or after the laying of the foundation – stone for the pavilion.

[21] It’s a characteristic that the Italian Press heralded the Greek participation of 1932 with extensive articles; see Elio Zorzi, “L’arte moderna ellenica parteciperà dal 1932 alle Esposizioni Biennale di Venezia”, Gazetta di Venezia, 8 May 1931. For the problems in financing the work, see the signed, letter in French from Dimitriadis, Headed Athens, 18 November 1931 (2ff ), and that of 27 January 1932 (2ff) to Antonio Maraini (ASAC, op. cit). The Italians, on the other hand, inaugurated the Casa d’ Italia in Athens in April 1932; τα χθεσινά εγκαίνια του Ιταλικού Οίκου, newspaper Proia, 11 June 1932.

[22] “L Italia tiene il posto di grade potenza che il suo destino le ha assegnato”, said Michalakopoulos on 11 June 1932, addressing the Italian Minister of Education who was in Athens for the opening if the Casa d’Italia; see Πρόποσις εις γεύμα προς τιμήν του επί Δημόσίας Παιδείας Υπουργού της Ιταλίας Balbino Giulino’, in A. Michalakopoulos, Μικταί Σελίδες, Vol. III, Athens 1967, p. 669. See also the article entitled; Τα χθεσινά εγκαίνια του Ιταλικού Οίκου, newspaper Proia, 11 June 1932. For Italy’s role as a Great Power at this time, see Svolopoulos, op. cit.

[23] Catalogue entitled έκθεσις των Ιταλών Φουτουριστών (Αεροζωγραφική), Italian Institute of Advanced Studies, Athens 1933. The presence of Marinetti in Athens at this time caused a great furore, for the bibliography on which see V. Kalamaras, Επιλογή ελληνικής βιβλιογραφίας για το κίνημα του φουτουρισμού, Διαβάζω periodical, no. 141, 9 April. 1986, pp. 54-55

[24] Catalogues entitled 2 /Ιταλική εβδομάς εν Αθήναις, 6 April- 4 May 1931, Zappeion Exhibition Hall, Athens; ‘Eκθεσις των Ιταλών….op. cit., and Ιταλική Έκθεσις Χαρακτικής και διακοσμητικής, 30 March – 14 April 1938, Italian Institute of Advanced Studies, Athens. For the organization of these Italian exhibitions by the Biennale, see P. Rizzi, E. Di Martino, “Le mostre all’estero” in Storia della Biennale 1895-1982, op. cit., p. 109.

[25] M. T(ombros), Οι χαράκτες των Σοβιετικών Δημοκρατιών στη λέσχη των καλλιτεχνών, 20ος αιώνας, 4-6, pp. 96-97, Z. Papantoniou, Οι Ρώσσοι χαράκται, newspaper Ελεύθερον Βήμα, 16 December 1934.

[26] Catalogue entitled Ιταλική έκθεσις Χαρακτικής, op. cit., and see also I.M.Panayotopoulos, Χαρακτική και Διακοσμητική, newspaper Πρωία, 32 March 1938, and  Η Ιταλική χαρακτική, by the same author, newspaper Πρωία 14 April 1938.

[27] Catalogue entitled IX Esposizione Internazionale d‘arte della città di Venezia, Venice 1910, p. 209; for this artist, see Bernard Dolman, A Dictionary of Contemporary British Artists, 1st ed., 1929, reprinted Woodbridge, Suffolk 1981; he may have been one of the ten children of Stefanos Mavrogordatos , E. Touloupa, Ειρήνη Μουρογορδάτου, news paper  τα Νέα, 29  May 1991.

[28] Catalogue entitled IX Esposizione Internazionale d ‘arte della cita di Venezia, Venice 1924, p. 46.

[29] Catalogue entitled IX Esposizione Internazionale d ‘arte della cita di Venezia, Venice 1926, p. 140.

[30] Catalogue entitled IX Esposizione Internazionale d ‘arte, Venice 1934, pp. 339-355 and photografhs 180-183.

[31] Ibid, p. 339, and Anon., Η έκθεσις της Βενετίας, newspaper  Ελεύθερον Βήμα, 7 March 1934.

[32] M. Tombros republished in the periodical 20os Αιώνας (no. 4-6, pp. 90-96) many of the comments which appeared in the Italian Press; see, in particular, the article by Pippo Rizzo Ξένα Περίπτερα, taken from the periodical Quadrivio of 1 July 1934, which recommends that fewer exhibitors be sent to the 1936 exhibition, among them Parthenis, Tombros and Raftopoulou (20oς αιώνας, op. cit., pp. 93-94); the recommendation for fewer representatives was also made by Ugo Ojetti in the news paper Corriere della Sera, 17 July 1934 (republished in Περί Ελληνικής Τέχνης, newspaper  Ελεύθερον Βήμα, 19 July 1934).

[33] A total of four works were sold: La Canzone del Pierrot and Giovinezza, nos. 4 and 5 in the Catalogue, by Oumvertos Argyros, Visitor gradito, no. 47, by Loukas Yeralis, and the sculpture Pan, no. 130, by Thomas Thomopoulos (“Registro Vendite. XIX Biennale,1934” in Libro delle Vendite di opere d’arte esposte alle Espozioni Int. XVIII 1932,XIX 1934, XX 1936 e XXI 1938, manuscript notebook in 3to, ASAC.

[34] Anon. (M. Tombros), η συμμετοχή μας στη Διεθνή έκθεση της Βενετίας (1934), πολυαρχία – παρεξηγήσεις – αδράνεια – κριτικές, periodical 20oς Αιώνας no. 4-6, pp.89-90, and ο κατάλογος της Μπιενάλε του 1934 και οι αγορές που δεν έγιναν, op.cit., p. 97.

[35] Catalogue entitled Mostra dei Quarant’anni della Biennale. MDCCCXCV – MCMXXX, Venice 1935; Cesare Sofianopoulos exhibited in the Italian pavilion (see p. 146 of the Catalogue and S. Spanoudi, Στη Βενετία, newspaper Αθηναϊκά Νέα, 11 September 1935.

[36] For the Greek attitude, see C. Evelpidis, Η Ελλάς και οι κυρώσεις εναντίον της Ιταλίας, newspaper Αθηναϊκά νέα, 20 November 1935, and C.Z. Sazanidis. Op. cit., p.99; more generally, see Jean – Baprtiste Duroselle, Histoire diplomatique de 1919 Z nos jours, 9th ed., Paris 1985, pp. 185-1991

[37] Catalogue entitled XX Esposizione Biennale Internazionale d’arte, Venice 1936, pp. 276-287 and photographs 66-68; the Greek participation also included retrospective exhibitions devoted to Nikolaos Lytras, Constantine Maleas, Lykoyrgos Koyevinas and Markos Zavizianos.

[38] Ibid. p.276. The Greek representatives attracted little attention at this Biennale, either. Works were sole by Pavlos Rodokanakis (Paesaggio and Arenzano, nos 40 and 41 in the Catalogue), Oumbertos Argyros (Statuetta rota, no.6) and Spyros Vikatos (II fanciullio, no. 51), and Lykoyrgos Koyevinas sold three engravings (II Monastero di Stavronikita, no . 136, II Monastero di Dionise - Monte Athos, no. 127, and II Monastero di Simonopetra, no. 136; see “Registro Vendite, 1936” in Libro delle Vendite di opere …., op.cit., ASAC).

[39] Anon., Οι Καλλιτέχνες μας εις Σόφιαν, newspaper Ελεύθερον Βήμα, 7 Μay 1936, and Οι Έλληνες καλλιτέχναι εν Σόφια, newspaper Ελεύθερον Βήμα, 18 May 1936; see also Ivan Popov, Η Έκθεσις της ομάδος «Τέχνη» εις την Βουλγαρικήν Πρωτεύουσα, newspaper Καθημερινή, 26 May 1936; Spyros Vasileiou, Ένα ταξίδι στη Σόφια, newspaper Ελεύθερον Βήμα, 26 May 1936, and Καλλιτέχναι και Πολιτική, (a letter from the Art Group), newspaper Ελεύθερον Βήμα, 14 June 1936.

[40] Anon., οι Έλληνες  Καλλιτέχνες στη Σόφια. Op cit.

[41] On The Balkan pact and its significance, see Constantine D. Svolopoulos, το Βαλκανικόν Σύμφωνον και η Ελληνική εξωτερική πολιτική, 1928-1934, Athens 1974.

[42] Anon., Oι εκθέται του Ελληνικού Περιπτέρου, newspaper Η βραδυνή, 29 Αθγθστ 1937, and Anon., Τιμή εις Έλληνας καλλιτέχνας, newspaper Ελεύθερον Βήμα, 28 October 1937. The Greek representatives won numerous distinctions.

[43] See the Article by Zacharias Papantoniou, “Artes plastique” , published anonymously in La Grèce actuelle, Athens 1933, pp. 76-93; Pantelis Prevelakis, “The Art of Modern Greece”, periodical The Studio, April 1938, pp. 175-190, and Manolis Chadjidakis, “Some aspects of modern Greek art”, in Perspective of Greece, an Atlantic Monthly supplement, New York 1955, pp. 31-42.

[44] For the role of the Venizelists in re–organising the arts, see Εκκλησία, Παιδεία, Τέχνη (an extract from Απολογισμός του έργου της κυβερνήσεως Φιλελευθέρων) Athens 1932; and for the work of the Metaxas regime and in particular of Prevelakis in the Directorate of Fine Arts of  the Ministry, see Τα πεπραγμένα της Γεν. Διευθύνσεως Καλών Τεχνών κατά την τελευταίαν τριετίαν, periodical Nέα Εστία, no. 340, 15 February 1941, pp. 166-172.

[45] K.A. Dimadis, Δικτατορία – Πόλεμος και Πεζογραφία 1932-1944, Athens 1991, pp. 53-54.

[46] Prevelakis was appointed Director Second class in the Directorate of Fine Arts of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and education, by the Royal Degree of 16 August 1937 (Government gazette 134, 17 August 1937), and he has relieved of his post by the Decree of 4 July 1941 (Government gazette 130, 4 July 1941).

[47] Πρακτικά της διαδικασίας  προς πλήρωσιν της τακτικής έδρας της Ιστορίας της νεωτέρας τέχνης, Universtity of Thessaloniki , Thessaloniki 1935. Prevelakis was appointed Professor in the School by the Royal Decree of 14 October 1939 (Government Gazette 227, 27 October 1939). In 1937, he had succeeded in having issued Emergency Law 908/1937 (Government Gazette 416,20 October 1937) “concerning the organization the closure of the Educational Department of the School of Fine Arts and concerning the organization of the teaching of theoretical and historical courses in the School” This law established a chair of History and Science of Art, whose occupant would be appointed by the Minister, the views of the teaching staff being merely an expert opinion submitted to him (Article 4,para.2). The law laid down that the Professor appointed would hold the Directore of Fine Arts. In October of the same year, acting as the government’s commissioner in the School, Prevelakis compelled the reluctant Staff Assembly, under pressure, to announce o competition to fill the Chair of Sculpture, vacant since the death of Thomopoulos (Συνεδρίασις του Συλλόγου των Καθηγητών της 8ης Οκτωβρίου 1937, In Πρακτικά των Συνεδριάσεων του Συλλόγου των Καθηγητών της Ανωτάτης Σχολής Καλών Τεχνών. 13 Νοεμβρίου 1930 – 17 Ιουλίου 1944, 3ο manuscript notebook, pp 209-211, Archives of the School of Fine Arts ). On 10 December 1937, the staff elected Tombros Professor of Sculpture in the School (Συνεδρίασις του Συλλόγου των Καθηγητών της 10ης Δεκεμβρίου 1937 in Πρακτικά op. cit., pp. 220-223). Prokopiou appealed against the candidacy of Prevelakis, who was forced to withdraw () Αίτησις και ένστασις Αγγέλου Γ. Προκοπίου κατά Παντελή Πρεβελάκη προς τον Αξιότιμον Σύλλογον των κ.κ. Καθηγητών της Αν. Σχολής Καλών Τεχνών, 1 November 1937,, and Υπόμνημα Αγγελου Γ. Προκοπίου κατά Παντελή Πρεβελάκη προς τον Αξιότιμον Σύλλογον των κ.κ. καθηγητών της Α. Σχολής Καλών Τεχνών, 7 December 1937, ref. no. 470, in the file labelled «P.Prevelakis», Archive of the School of Fine Arts). Although Prevelakis was obliged to stand down as a candidate (see Πρακτικά…, op. cit., pp. 220-223 and had given an extension to the time limit for the submission of supplementary particulars.

[48] Government Gazette 204. 27 May 1937, Law 704

[49] Catalogue entitled XXI Esposizione Biennale Internationale d’Arte 1938, Venice, pp. 233-239 and photographs nos.40-42, with a foreword by P. Prevelakis. It is, perhaps indicative of the predominance of the Liberal camp that both Parthenis and Thodoropoulos were confirmed anti-monarchists. Fro Parthenis’ relations with the Liberals, and with Alecandros Papanastasiou in particular, see Miltiadis Papanikolaou, Πορτρέτα του Αλέξανδρου Παπαναστασίου από τον Κωνσταντίνο Παρθένη in the catalogue entitled Κωνσταντίνος Παρθένης (1878-1967), Τhessaloniki 1984, pp 27-40. In 1935, Theodoropoulos signed the proclamation issued by authors, artists and scientists opposing the revival of the question of  the monarchy and in favour of a republic (see  Οι διανοούμενοι και η Δημοκρατία, newspaper Ελεύθερον Βήμα, 13 September 1935).

[50] Catalogue entitled XXII Esposizione Biennale Internationale d’Arte 1940, Venice, pp. 259-265 and photographs nos.93, 93, with a foreword by D. Evangelidis.

[51] P Prevelakis, Η Ελληνική Τέχνη στην έκθεση της Βενετίας, periodical Νέα Εστία. No 279, 1 August 1938, p.1029.

[52] The Italian Foreign Ministry bought The Annunciation, but paint for it less than half the price Parthenis had wanted : 10,000 lire instead of the 22,000 lire at which he had estimated it (see “Registro Vendite, 1938”, op. cit., ASAC, and Έντυπο της Μπιενάλε, completed and signed by Parthenis in Italian,, C. Parthenis, fasc. C. Parthenis ASAC). Ten engravings by Theodoropoulos (nos.129, 134, 136, 137, 144,152, 167, 169, 172 and 177 in the Catalogue) were also sold (By Rodokanakis Vendite, 1938” op. cit., ASAC). ) At the 1940 Biennale , only one painting was sold (by Rodokanakis, no. 36 in the Catalogue), together with engravings by D. Yannoukakis (nos. 64,65,66,75,69 and 73) and A. Koroyannakis (nos. 79, 84 and 86, see Libro delle vendite di opera d’arte alla XXII Esposizione Internazionale d’arte del 1940, 3o manuscript notebook, ASAC). The works sent to the exhibition were  returned to Greece after the war.

[53] In 1937, the Association of Greek Artists was set up as s counterbalance and reaction to activities of the Art Group and the Free Artists ‘ Group. The Association’s Board consisted of. O. Fokas, D. Yearaniotis , P. Mathiopoulos, N. Othonaios, O. Argyros and F. Rok, with Kostas Dimitriadis as President. Its aims were to cultivate artistic sentiments in the public, to serve the aspirations of professionals, to organise art exhibitons in Greece and abroad and to obtain accommodation for the housing of aged and unfortunate artists (see ίδρυσης Εταιρείας Ελλήνων Καλλιτεχνών, newspaper Πρωία, 12 May 1937, and the letter from G. Prokopiou, Δια μιαν καλλιτεχνικήν ανακοίνωσιν, newspaper Ελεύθερον Βήμα, 10 June 1937). A few months letter, the Greek Academic Artist’s Group was founded, for the purpose, at is stated in its manifesto, of protecting Academic Art against the new trends which have succeeded in shaking the faith of the public in the fine arts and, on the other hand, to combat the foreign influences which, in the name of misapprehended cosmopolitanism and freedom for the arts, have shattered and unsettled the pure national art of Greece The founder–members of the Group included Vikatos, Yeraniotis, Yeorgiadis, Lytras, Yeralis, Yermenis and Artemis (see Anon. Μια καλλιτεχνική κίνησις, newspaper Πρωία, 14 November 1937 and Anon., οι Έλληνες Ακαδημαικοί Ζωγράφοι, newspaper  Έλευθερον Βήμα, 13 November 1937). The Group’s first move was to call upon compelled them to reconcile themselves with the other artists organisations (see Το κράτος και αι εικαστικαί τέχναι o κ. Πρωθυπουργός εκθέτει εις επιτροπήν τας απόψεις του, newspaper Ελεύθερον Βήμα, 29 December 1938; οι Ακαδημαικοί και οι Φουτουρισταί εις χθεσινήν σύσκεψην των ζωγράφων ετέθησαν αι βάσεις της διαρρυθμίσεως της διαφοράς των newspaper Αθηναικά Νέα, 28 December 1937; G. Prokopiou, Περί ζωγραφικής, newspaper, Ελεύθερον Βήμα, 29 December 1937; Eleni Machaira, 4η Αυγούστου και Τέχνη, Periodical Εικαστικά , no. 7-8, Julu- August 1982, pp. 48-53, and AndrGas Ioannidis, Le contenu idéologique de la reference a la Grèce dans le domaine de l’art sous les regimes Fascistes, la Grèce de Metaxas, doctoral thesis, Université de Paris I (Pantheon-Sorbonne), Paris1986.

[54] Asim. Yal.(amas?), Ανάμεσα στους νέους ζωγράφους σπουδαστάς των καλών τεχνών, newspaper Ημερήσιος Κήρυξ, 4 February 1935. Even today, Greek art historians approach with some mystification the fact that the Parthenis studio in the School produced students - such as Moralis, Tsarouchis, Engonopoulos and Nikolaou - who headed in a variety of directions, and that those who in the post – War period turned towards abstract art studied not under Parthenis but with the Academist teachers in the School. In 1933, the art critic Zacharias Papantoniou was barracked viciously by all the students of the School except those of Parthenis when he came to teach art history, the reason being that he had published an article critical of Oumvertos Argyros ()see Anon θορυβώδεις σκηναί εις την σχολήν Καλών Τεχνών, newspaper Ελληνική, 6 April 1933., and Z. Papantoniou, Έκθεση Ουμβ. Αργυρού, newspaper Ελεύθερον Βήμα, 2 April 1933. The letter sent by Parthenis to the administration of the School in 1935 gives a clear picture of the war waged against him by the other members of staff- including Dimitriadis- which involved his being deprived on three occasions of a room in the School for his studio (see the typed and signed letter from Parthenis, dated 11 February 1935, 2ff to the administration of the School of  Fine Arts, in the file marked “K. Parthenis”, Archive of the School of Fine Arts).

[55] For the more general atmosphere in favour of the representational trends in Europe at the time, see the texts in catalogue of the exhibition entitled Les Réalismes. Paris 1980, by W. Schmied, J. Clair, Z. Birolli, F. Roche – PGzard, P. Vivarelli, G. Metken, B.Hinz, J. Vovelle, U. Linde, C. Derouet, I. Claverie, M.W. Brown, M.L. Borras, S. Wilson and Serge Fauchereau, “Les annGes 36”, la Querelle du Realisme, Paris 1987, pp. 9-39.

[56] Christian Zervos, Προς τους Έλληνες Καλλιτέχνες, periodical 20os  Αιώνας, no. 4-6, p. 74.

[57] In 1936, Papaloukas was a candidate for the post of Director of the School’s annexe at Delphi, but received not one vote from the School’s staff (Parthenis was absent from the ballot) as against six for N. Othonaios (see Συνεδρίασις του Συλλόγου των Καθηγητών της 9ης Μαρτίου 1936, Πρακτικά….,op. sit., pp. 190-191. E. Zairis had been appointed Director of the Mykonos Annexe as far back as 1932 (see Συνεδρίασις…8ης Μαρτίου 1932, ibid., pp.40-41) and in 1939 P. Vyzantios was elected Director in Delphi (see Συνεδρίασις …20ης Ιουλίου 1939, ibid., pp. 280-283).

[58] In 1934, S. Skipis wrote of Bouzianis that with Expressionism, a system which caused a brief sensation in Paris and of which even the echoes died away long ago in Germany, he has chosen an entirely unsuitable period to make his appearance in Greece with such manifestoes (S. Skipis, καλλιτεχνικές εκδηλώσεις, newspaper Η Βραδυνή, 1November 1934.

[59] D. Pikionis, Το νεύμα της εποχής μας in Στέρης /18 κριτικά άρθρα γύρω από μια έκθεση, Athens 1931, reprinted by T. Gorpas in Στέρης, Athens 1982, pp.16-18

[60] In the form in which it has survived, this dialogue is inevitably unfair to Papantoniou, since his reply was an indirect one and took the form of articles about an exhibition by the Art Group and another by P. Aravantinos (Z. Papantoniou, Το έργο του Αραβαντινού, newspaper Ελεύθερον Βήμα, 24 Μay 1931, and Η έκθεση της ομάδος «Τέχνη», newspaper Ελεύθερον βήμα, 5 November 1931.

[61] L. Steris, Τέχνη και πνευματικότης in Steris, 18 κριτικά άρθρα γύρω από μία έκθεση, op. cit., pp. 18-20.

[62] With the exception of a few buildings designed in Greece in accordance with the principles  of Le Corbusier and the inter – War period (see D. Filippidis, op. cit., pp. 205-236), abstract art was used as s style by graphic artists and set designers such as Angelos Spachis and Kleovoulos Klonis (see Periklis Vyzantios, Άγγελος Σπαχής, periodical Ζυγός, no. 63, February 1961, pp. 21-24 the photograph of the set for the 3rd act of Tibuk designed by Klonis, periodical 46, nay 1929, p. 19, and the famous design for the set of the Agamemnon, 1932, in Dionysis Fotopoulos,  Σκηνογραφία στο Ελληνικό Θέατρο, Athens 1987, Photograph 78, pp. 37-38.

[63] Διακήρυξις των Νέων Ρεαλιστών / Β΄ Έκθεσις σπουδαστών καλλιτεχνών, Athens 1937; this text, Marxist in its inspiration, reflects the considerable influence which Marxist ideas had on intellectuals and artists – particularly the younger ones – during the period between the Wars, and it is quite clear that Marxist criticism rejected abstract art (see P. Pikros, Πάνω στη μορφή και το περιεχόμενο της τέχνης, periodical Πρωτοπόροι, no. 8, September 1931, pp. 327-331; Mario Vitti erroneously attributes this article to Kostas Vamalis, see Η γενιά του τριάντα  3rd Athens 1982, pp. 55-56).

[64] F. Kontoglou , Η περίφημη ελευθερία κτλπ., newspaper Πρωία, 19 June 1934.

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