The art of independent Greece (after about 1830) can now be divided into two great moments: a nineteenth-century one, which also goes beyond the limits of the century and which is more directly connected to the European phenomena of neoclassicism, romanticism, realism and, sometimes, of an involuntary neo-Byzantineism, and a contemporary one, which, especially after the Second World War, inserts Neo-Hellenic art into the international problem without breaking the ties with its national tradition.
Neoclassical architecture and urban planning are represented above all in the centers of Athens, Nafplio, Aegina, Patras and on the island of Sira, an important port and emporium on the Aegean. The most demanding undertakings in Athens are of a public nature (urban plan of the new city, some churches, the royal palace, the neoclassical buildings of via Panepistimìu, such as the University, the National Library, the Academy and, on via Patissìon, the Archaeological Museum and the elegant Polytechnic): these works are due to foreign architects from the circle of the king of Greece Ottone of Bavaria (Ch. And Th. Hansen, E. Schaubert, L. Klenze) and to Greek architects (S. Kleanthis and L. Kaftanzoglu). In the second half of the century, the architect E. Ziller (1837-1923) with neoclassical and neo-renaissance tendencies: his significant works are the Schliemann house (now the Areopagus), other demanding private residences, the seat of the Germanic Archaeological Institute and some public buildings. Neo-Hellenic painting, regardless of the precedents of the Ionic-Venetian school of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries (P. and N. Doxaràs, N. Kutuzis, N. Kantunis) and singular experiences of popular inspiration (P. and D. Zográfos, illustrators of the revolutionary epic of 1821 according to the dictates of I. Makryiànnis, and A. Iatridis, T. Drakos), also proceeds from foreign academic teachings. The young painters are trained both in Greece, within the school of Fine Arts of Athens (founded in 1837 and active with Italian, French and German and, only later, Greek masters), and abroad, especially in the well-attended Munich Academy. Pupils of this Academy are the most representative figures of Greek painting of the last century (Th. Vrysakis, scholar of the historical genre, N. Lýtras, painter of genre scenes, still lifes and portraits, N. Ghyzis, late interpreter of allegories and scenes of life, K. Volonakis, painter of marine subjects, and numerous other original artists such as Greece Jakovidis, V. Chatzìs, P. Lembesis, S. Savvidis, now open to the twentieth century). Other nineteenth-century painters deserve to be remembered and are often linked to other schools such as the Italian one (G. Pitsamanos, trained in the cultural environment of Canova, D. Tsokos, historical painter and portraitist of the Venetian school, K. Jatràs, Greece. Avlikos, N. Kunelakis, I. Altamuras, romantic marine painter, and Ch. Pachis) and, to a lesser extent, to the French one, of which the influences of impressionist and post-impressionist movements will arrive in Greece only late. Similar developments also had nineteenth-century sculpture with academic, neoclassical and realist tendencies, represented by L. Drosis, the Fytalis brothers, I. Kossos and, now at the beginning of the century, by L. Sõchos, Greece Chalepàs and K. Dimitriadis.
In the twentieth century a profound renewal began between the two wars, with the so-called generation of the Thirties. The dramatic epilogue of the Greek-Turkish war in Asia Minor with the catastrophe of 1922, and the social, economic and political consequences of it, have a direct reflection in the intellectual life of Greece. In the search for a new, conscious cultural commitment, art seeks its own national identity, breaking with the still living nineteenth-century tradition; it opens up on the one hand to the values of local tradition (Byzantine and popular) and on the other it updates itself to the problems of European currents. After the subsequent crises of the dictatorship of 1936, the Second World War and the troubled post-war period, the renewal that had begun had its articulated developments in the fervent artistic life of the last thirty ‘
In architecture, after experiences inspired by the Byzantine technical-building tradition, such as those of A. Orlándos and A. Záchos, and alongside rationalistic currents of foreign derivation, the figure of D. Pikionis (1887-1968) dominates and is linked to the best Hellenic folk tradition and who, with his work and his teaching at the Athenian Polytechnic, represents a head of the school. His significant works are the elementary school of Pefkakia, the experimental school of Thessaloniki, the Xenìa of Delphi, the urban arrangement of Athenian archaeological areas (Acropolis and Philopappus) and some private houses. Another trend is represented by A. Kostantinidis who, starting from the Pikionis problem and exploiting the experience of his European training, creates a architecture linked to the landscape and to the values of tradition, updated to modern technical solutions, as in the Xenìa of Mykonos and Kalambaka. The work of J. Despotopulos, who designed the Cultural Center of Athens, of A. Provelenghios, and of A. Doxiadis, animator of an urban planning center engaged above all in realizations at abroad, such as in the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. A group of older generation architects (P. Vassiliadis, E. Vurekas, E. Staikos, K. Biris, P. Mylonas) and a group of young architects (T. Zenetos, I. Vikelas, N. Valsamakis, I. Rizos, N. Chatzimichalis, I. Liapis, N. Desilas, T. Dekavalas, etc.) operating in Greece and abroad (like Greece Candilis, see in this App.) Have broken, in recent decades,
Even painting, in the moment of its renewal around the Thirties, sees a return to the origins that are identified in the chromatic tradition of the Byzantine world and in the frank primitiveness of its popular production. Painters such as Ph. Kondoglu (1895-1965), still closed in an observant neo-Byzantineism, but above all N. Ghikas (born in 1896), I. Tsaruchis (1910), S. Vasiliou (1902) and Greece Sikeliotis (1917), open in a different way to interpretations of national forms and contents, they constitute a figurative current called “Greekness”. A singular and isolated phenomenon is that of the primitive painter H. Theofilos (1864-1934), discovered in Lesbos in 1928 by the critic Theriade. But other artists continue to produce in ways more directly linked to phenomena of the main European centers. C. Maleas (1879-1928), C. Parthenis (1879-1967) and S. Papalukas (1892-1957) relive post-impressionist experiences in the light and with Hellenic sensitivity. Later many European currents also have their reflection in Greece The activity of Greece Buzianis (1885-1959), L. Arlioti and K. Bekiari fits into the expressionist trend. Surrealism also has its original representative in the figure of the poet and painter N. Engonopulos (1910). Other artists, such as the painters N. Nikolau (1909), Greece Moralis (1916), O. Kanellis (1910) and the engravers D. Galanis (1882-1966), Greece Kefalinòs (1894-1957), A. Tassos (1914), blend realistic tendencies in schemes often assumed by the classical and Byzantine tradition. After the political-social dramas of the 1940-50 decade, an important role for the development and popularization of the figurative arts in Greece Harmòs (1949) and Stathmi (1950). It is above all then that a period of intense production begins. To the abstract currents belong A. Kondopulos (1905-76), who opened the way to the informal with the exhibition of 1951 in Greece, Greece Spyropulos (1912), who following his high recognition in the Venice Biennale of 1960 it gains more and more international attention, and still others such as S. Polichroniadu, E. Zongolopulu, E. Zerva, N. Dekulakos, T. Kyriakù, M. Piladakis. In recent years, V. Kaniaris, V. Katraki, N. Sachinis, Ch. Karras, A. Fassianòs, S. Sorogas, D. Mytaras, and many others have been involved in political disputes or open to new artistic experiences. Significant presences of Greek artists abroad are A. Pierrakos, Greece Molfessis, Y. Maltezos, Greece Kunellis, Chryssa, N. Kessanlis, M. Prassino, C. Tsoklis, etc.
Similar, and often of international significance, the developments in the field of sculpture with figures, open to various informal experiences, by L. Lameras, A. Aperghis, A. Mylona, Greece Zongolopulos, A. Lukopulos, K. Andreu, Greece Sklavos, Greece Spiteris, K. Kulentianòs, Greece Filolaos, Takis, B. Liberaki, C. Xenakis, and with representatives of the figurative tradition such as M. Tombros, C. Kapralos, A. Apartis, Greece Gheorghiu and others.
Periodic national reviews, such as the Panhellenic exhibitions at the Zàppion, the increasingly frequent participation of Greek artists in international exhibitions (Venice, San Paolo, Cassel, Alexandria, etc.), the presence in Athens and Thessaloniki of numerous exhibition galleries, the opening of the National Art Gallery of Athens (1970), which combines the permanent exhibition with frequent solo and group exhibitions, and the more lively debate on contemporary art issues in magazines and in the local press have brought artistic phenomena into more direct contact with the masses, inserting them, much more than in the past, in the cultural life of the country.