Frames of reference: The Bank of Greece Collection


On the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Bank of Greece,

the Centre for Culture, Research and Documentation of the Bank and the Benaki Museum present an exhibition entitled Frames of Reference. From the Bank of Greece Collection, at the Pireos St. Annexe of the Benaki Museum.

The exhibition, featuring 160 works by Greek artists, selected from the Bank’s Art Collection, opened on Wednesday, 14 March, and will run until 20 May 2018.

The Bank of Greece Art Collection, which started being built as soon as the Bank started operations in 1928, today comprises nearly 3,000 pieces, mostly paintings and prints along with a small number of sculptures, which highlight various aspects of modern Greek art. It includes works by important 19th- and early 20th- century painters, such as Konstantinos Volanakis, Ioannis Altamouras, Nikolaos Gyzis, Georgios Iakovidis, Konstantinos Maleas, Theophrastos Triantaphyllidis, but also by such later artists as Yannis Tsarouchis, Paris Prekas, Spyros Vassiliou, Panayiotis Tetsis, etc.

The exhibition Frames of Reference, From the Bank of Greece Collection, is structured around three main themes that have been and, to this day, remain sources of inspiration for lasting ideas in modern Greek art.

The first section of the exhibition refers to antiquity: starting with the iconic image of Pallas Athena, designed by Nikolaos Gyzis for the banner of the University of Athens, it features works that depict mythological figures, scenes from ancient history and views of archaeological landscapes, which prompted new quests in modern Greek art in terms of such concepts as measure, harmony, beauty.

The second section focuses on how art approaches issues of the everyday world: genre themes from everyday life, portraits and versions of still lifes are offered by artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, such as Nikephoros Lytras, Georgios Iakovidis, Theophrastos Triantaphyllidis, Thaleia Flora-Karavia, Valias Semertzidis, Orestis Kanellis, Yannis Tsarouchis, etc.

The third section includes works that highlight the importance of the landscape as a guide for artistic expression. Marine themes stand out, especially the series of works by the important seascape painters Ioannis Altamouras and Konstantinos Volanakis. In the 20th century, the focus shifts to the particular atmosphere of the Greek countryside and urban landscape: Spyros Papaloukas and Konstantinos Maleas, but also such later artists as Vasos Germenis, Agenor Asteriadis, Spyros Vassiliou, Panayiotis Tetsis reveal how the landscape has been a constant source of inspiration, a frame of reference and a starting point for experimentation in modern Greek art.

Overall, the exhibition seeks to showcase how these themes have never ceased to attract the interest of Greek artists and have served as “frames of reference” for them to express themselves and develop their visual language. At the same time, it approaches the Collection itself as a “frame of reference” for works of art that attempt to formulate aspects of Greek cultural identity.

Guided tours will be led by curator Charis Kanellopoulou on the following dates and times:

Sunday, 1 April 2018, 12:00

Sunday, 29 April 2018, 12:00

Sunday, 20 May 2018, 12:00

Benaki Museum / 138 Pireos St.

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