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Hadjinicolaou, Nicos

    Image Credit: Bodossaki Lectures on Demand

    Full Name: Hadjinicolaou, Nicos

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1938

    Place Born: Salonika, Region of Central Macedonia, Greece

    Home Country/ies: Greece

    Subject Area(s): Marxism, Renaissance, Spanish (culture or style), and Spanish Renaissance-Baroque styles

    Career(s): educators


    Art historian of Marxist-methodology and historian of visual ideology; El Greco scholar and Professor, El Greco Centre, Institute of Mediterranean Studies, Rethymnon, Crete. Hadjinicolaou studied art history at the Universities of Berlin, Freiberg and Munich. In 1965, he moved to Paris where he continued study under Pierre Francastel, the philosopher and the director of the école pratique des hautes études, Lucien Goldmann (1913-1970) and the historian Pierre Vilar (1906-2003). His thesis, written for a class on “La lutte des classes en France dans la production d’images de l’année 1830,” became his 1973 book Histoire de l’art et lutte des classes. Its English translation Art History and Class Struggle,1978, burst on the academic scene as one of the clearest Marxist counter-approaches to the traditional practice of art history. Hadjinicolaou had written it as such, pointed, he wrote, to address the crisis in teaching art history in universities. He became Professor, El Greco Centre, Institute of Mediterranean Studies, Rethymnon, Crete. His class-view of art history moderated only slightly in the intervening years. His 1999 essay for an exhibition on El Greco was, “El Greco Invested with Nationalist Ideologies.” Art History and Class Struggle attacked the formalist approach to art history, fostered by the 19th-century writing of Théophile Gautier and the philosopher Victor Cousin (1792-1867), which Hadjinicolaou characterized as still the dominant approach in the 1970s. He asserted that the production of images was an aspect of class ideology and that art history should be approached from that position. This is a direct application of György Lukács (1885-1971) History and Class Consciousness. He has also cited the works of Louis Althusser (1918-1990) and Frederick Antal as influential. His work was criticized by Françoise d’Eaubonne (1920-2005) in her 1977 feminist book, Histoire de lart et lutte des sexes, contending that gender struggle preceded class struggle.

    Selected Bibliography

    Histoire de l’art et lutte des classes. Paris: F. Maspero, 1973, English, Art History and Class Struggle. London: Pluto Press, 1978; El Greco. Rethymnon: Crete University Press/New Rochelle, NY: Orpheus, 1990, specifically, vol. 1. : Documents on his Life and Work, vol. 2. El Greco: Byzantium and Italy. 1990, vol. 3. El Greco: Works in Spain, vol. 4. El Greco: Altarpieces in Spanish Churches. Rethymnon: Crete University Press, 1999; El Greco in Italy and Italian art: Proceedings of the Iinternational Symposium, Rethymnon, Crete, 22-24 September 1995. Rethymnon: University of Crete, 1999.


    de Zurko, Edward R. [Review of Histoire de l’art et lutte des classes]. Art Bulletin 56, no. 3 (September 1974): 466-467; Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. Research Guide to the History of Western Art. Sources of Information in the Humanities, no. 2. Chicago: American Library Association, 1982, pp. 141-142; Bazin, Germain. Histoire de l’histoire de l’art: de Vasari à nos jours. Paris: Albin Michel, 1986, pp. 339-340.


    "Hadjinicolaou, Nicos." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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