The building of the National Art Gallery and Alexander Soutzos Museum is a modern three store building that was completed in 1976. It contains a collection of 117 paintings that belonged to Athens University and the private collection of Alexander Soutzos that was donated to the Greek State after his death.
The institution is known for its well organized exhibitions of famous art works that are borrowed from museums and galleries from all aver the world. On the ground floor, the first room usually is occupied by the current exhibition. The exhibition might also continue to the basement, where there is also the café of the museum facing the back yard.
Attention: The main building of the National Gallery - Alexandros Soutzos Museum, Vasileos Konstantinou Avenue, has been closed since March 2013, due to expansion works.
The permanent collection of the gallery is also very interesting. It contains a small sample of painting of Western European art of the 16th and 17th century. Moreover, there is a great variety of Greek paintings that cover extensively the period of the 19th and 20th century. On the back room, of the ground floor, on the left, the visitor can admire Western European painters such as Tiepolo and Boucher. On the right side the journey through the Modern Greek art begins with the works Doménikos Theotokópoulos (El Greco) and the paintings of other Greek artists that were influenced by the Italian art during the 17th and 18th century. The official history of the Modern Greek Art starts in the 1832 when the Greek State is founded. The visitor can admire works of famous Greek painters of the era (Gyzis, Lytras ect.). There are portraits of the high class of the period, religious paintings, representation of the recent historical facts form the struggle of the Greeks against the Turkish Empire, painting that represent the local customs, nudes, still life and others. In the end of this room the visitor will discover the first influence of impressionism to the Greek painters. In the works of landscape painters (Volonakis) the choice of color and the way the light is used offers the first indications of modernity in Greek art.
On the second floor at the right side the visitor can observe the influence of the modern art movements on Greek art. In the 20th century Greek art becomes more modern and innovating. Painters like Parthenis is experimenting with symbolism, impressionism, fauvism and even cubism. A great variety of his work is displayed here and it indicates his interest on the new techniques that were applied in Europe at that time. Further down the Greek painter Gkikas is interpreting cubism in his own way combining the analysis and fragmentation of the objects with the vivid colors that derive from the Greek Culture and natural light. On the other side of the room Surrealism is represented in the Greek art field by Egonolopoulos and expressionism by Bouzianis. The generation of artists of the 1930 studied the Byzantine art and the old popular art creating a movement of naïve Greek art.
The left side of the second floor is devoted to contemporary Greek art. Abstract painting, constructions, photorealism, optic art prove that Greek artists follow the experimentations and the new ideas of the European Art.
Very few sculptures are scattered in the rooms of the National Gallery. On the first floor there are some that belong to the neo-classical tradition. On the second floor some more modern abstract ones are displayed. Contemporary sculpture also decorates the gardens of the building.
The National Art Gallery and Alexander Soutzos Museum provides the visitor with the opportunity to familiarize himself with the Modern Greek History and Art. The works of arts that are presented here prove that Greece on one hand is part of the European Art history. On the other hand it has its own separate tradition and aesthetic.
- Address: 1 Michalakopoulou, 11601 Athens
- Admission: 6,50 €
- How to get there: Metro Station: Evangelismos
- Schedule: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 09.00-20.00 Tuesday: Closed Saturday, Sunday: 09.00-16.00
- Phone: (+30) 210.7235937
- Internet Page: http://www.nationalgallery.gr/