Image #18525

Echoes of Greek Modernism

19 MAY 2024

“The idea behind the S/S’24 Menswear Collection of ZEUS+DIONE focuses on a specific era, the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, which could be considered the Golden Era of modern Greece, giving rise to beautiful movements in art, music, literature, and architecture. It is the only period that one could call flourishing, where the country did not only look outwards to external influences, and it also embodies the notion of the small trades prospering”

- Marios Schwab, ZEUS+DIONE Creative Director

 

The story of ZEUS+DIONE's S/S’24 Menswear Collection takes us back to a time when modernism first made its mark in Greece, catalyzing a revolution across art, poetry, music, and architecture. Greek creatives boldly departed from tradition, blending European modernist ideas with their cultural heritage. Eight influential figures rose to prominence during this transformative era, sparking intellectual and artistic evolution, fundamentally shaping the country's contemporary cultural identity.

 

Photo: Odysseas Elytis, Greek Poet awarded with Nobel Prize of Literature

Giorgos Seferis, 1979., painted by Tassos (Alevizos Anastasios)
Giorgos Seferis, 1979., painted by Tassos (Alevizos Anastasios)
Giorgos Seferis- The first Greek poet to win a Nobel Prize
Giorgos Seferis- The first Greek poet to win a Nobel Prize
Odysseas Elytis, 'Axion Esti', 1959
Odysseas Elytis, 'Axion Esti', 1959
To 'axion esti' by Mikis Theodorakis
To 'axion esti' by Mikis Theodorakis

In 1929, a cohort of Greek intellectuals, known as the Generation of the '30s, sought to modernize Greek literature. They advocated for broader intellectual discourse beyond poetry alone. Leading this movement were two Nobel Prize-nominated figures: George Seferis and Odysseas Elytis. Seferis was recognized "for his eminent lyrical writing, inspired by a deep feeling for the Hellenic world of culture." His surrealistic poetry played a pivotal role in Greek literary history. Sixteen years later, Elytis, with his poetical composition ‘Axion Esti,’ emerged as a prominent exponent of romantic modernism, both domestically and abroad.

Sotiria Bellou with Vasilis Tsitsanis
Sotiria Bellou with Vasilis Tsitsanis

Meanwhile, in the world of folk tradition and music, figures like Vasilis Tsitsanis and Sotiria Bellou reshaped Greek folk music. They infused it with Western melodies, often referred to as the Greek blues, and narratives that reflected the experiences of marginalized urban communities. Their contributions elevated Rebetiko from a subcultural genre to a respected art form, with Bellou notably challenging gender norms to emerge as a prominent figure in this male-dominated field.

Yiannis Tsarouxis-Zeibekiko. 1985
Yiannis Tsarouxis-Zeibekiko. 1985
Youth asleep by the sea, 1965, Yannis Tsarouchis
Youth asleep by the sea, 1965, Yannis Tsarouchis
The Annunciation, 1910 – 1911, Konstantinos Parthenis
The Annunciation, 1910 – 1911, Konstantinos Parthenis
Bathers, prior to 1919, Konstantinos Parthenis
Bathers, prior to 1919, Konstantinos Parthenis

In the artistic field, Yannis Tsarouchis, deeply rooted in Greek culture and daily life, found inspiration ranging from his hometown of Piraeus to the tumult of the Greco-Italian war. His exploration spanned Byzantine traditions to Impressionism and Fauvism, presenting a modernist reimagining of Greek heritage. Tsarouchis's work, influenced by sources like the poetry of Constantine P. Cavafy and Maria Callas's theatrical set designs, injected vitality into traditional themes. Similarly, Konstantinos Parthenis embraced modernist movements, blending elements of religion, ancient and Byzantine art with impressionism and symbolism, thereby rejuvenating Greek art for future generations.

yiannis-tsarouchis

Yannis Tsarouchis

 

Konstantinos Parthenis

Agios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris by Dimitris Pikionis, source Doma Archi
Agios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris by Dimitris Pikionis, source Doma Archi
Agios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris by Dimitris Pikionis, source Doma Archi
Agios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris by Dimitris Pikionis, source Doma Archi
Landscaping on the Hills of the Acropolis and Philopappos" by Dimitris Pikionis, source Doma Archi
Landscaping on the Hills of the Acropolis and Philopappos" by Dimitris Pikionis, source Doma Archi
Motel Xenia in Kalampaka by Aris Konstantinidis, source Doma Archi
Motel Xenia in Kalampaka by Aris Konstantinidis, source Doma Archi
The cobblestone road to the Acropolis by Dimitris Pikionis, source Doma Archi
The cobblestone road to the Acropolis by Dimitris Pikionis, source Doma Archi

In architecture, modernism flourished in two significant periods, from 1930 to 1940 and from 1950 to 1975, influenced by radical concepts like Le Corbusier's "Esprit Nouveau". Architects such as Dimitris Pikionis blended traditional Greek elements with modernist principles, notably in his landscaping project around the Acropolis. Utilizing salvaged materials including rocks from the site, ancient fragments, and remnants of neoclassical Athenian mansions, he forged a dialogue between past and present while revitalizing landmarks like the church of Agios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris on Philopappou hill. Similarly, Aris Konstantinidis, a proponent of the "God-built structure," advocated for simplicity and functionality, guided by traditional architecture and the Mediterranean lifestyle's emphasis on outdoor living. His architectural vision emphasized three essential elements: enclosed interior space, courtyard, and semi-outdoor areas.

 

Dimitris Pikionis

Dimitris Pikionis

 

Aris Konstantinidis, Paola Cofano and Dimitri Konstantinidis (eds.) Aris Konstantinidis 1913-1993, Electa Milano, 2010

 

Aris Konstantinidis, Paola Cofano and Dimitri Konstantinidis (eds.)  Aris Konstantinidis 1913-1993, Electa Milano, 2010