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For an artist, expatriation can be a kind of death — because for an artist, it can mean estrangement from the contexts and locations that secure a place in the annals of history that tend to emphasize centers over peripheries. El Greco (1541-1614), “The Greek,” was born Domenico Theotocopoulos and though he began with relative success, he fell quickly into oblivion upon his worldly dispatch.

Born in Crete, he sought training in Italy before he took the amalgamation of his painterly genius to Spain, after which he had no followers of note. The dark interim of near anonymity until his modern rediscovery led to hyperbolic biographical accounts of the artist that labeled him during the modern period anything from Jew or Catholic to pagan, mystic and lunatic. Much was unknown and the void could be filled without concern for historical accuracy.

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