Greek European Culture

Greek art, Greek history

Knossos, Evans and de Chirico




Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House

Yet even with these biographical details and with such clearly documented links between the characters, the pattern of influence remains hard to pin down. Whatever the young de Chirico learned from his childhood teacher, those drawing lessons took place before Gilliéron had undertaken any major work at Knossos. And indeed the apparent reminiscences of the modernist architecture of Knossos in de Chirico’s paintings predated the large-scale architectural reconstruction of the palace site by more than a decade. Perhaps we should be thinking of the influence flowing from de Chirico to the restorers of the palace. More likely, as Gere implies, the reinvention of primitive Knossos was a much more communal cultural project than that. We should not see it simply as the construction of Evans and his staff, but as a shared obsession of the early-twentieth-century intellectual elite. This obsession drew not only on a powerful combination of archaeology and modernism, but also on new views of the nature of ancient Greek culture (largely inspired by Nietzsche—who was certainly de Chirico’s bedside reading) and on a radical sense that the distant past could provide a way of rethinking the present.

From the New York Review of Books; excerpts, edited by Ellopos Blog

Cf. Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism at Amazon.

1 Comment

  1. Dean

    The introduction to Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism by Cathy Gere is available on the University of Chicago Press website.