Giorgio de Chirico 1888 -  1978



Giorgio de Chirico " Meubles dans une vallèe" 1927 Giorgio de Chirico " L'esprit de domination " 1927 Giorgio de Chirico " Autoritratto" 1922 Giorgio de Chirico " Les deux nus " 1926 Giorgio de Chirico " Il figliol prodigo " 1926


Italian Version

Giorgio de Chirico " Temple et foret dans la chambre " 1928

Giorgio de Chirico.

The painter was born of Italian parents in Volos, Greece, on July 10th 1888, and he died on November 20th 1978 in Rome, after unifying in a single period, referred to as “metaphysical”, all the themes and styles of the last ten years of his activity.

Origins and formation
 His father, Evaristo de Chirico, was an engineer and was commissioned to design the railway construction in Tessaglia. The frequent movement of the family between Volos and Athens gave origin to the journey theme and the contrasts evoked between ancient and modern Greece inspired the subsequent work of de Chirico. Giorgio and his brother Andrea, who in 1912 started to use the assumed name of Alberto Savinio, received a good education, based on ancient history, languages and Greek mythology. When his father died in 1905, the education of the brothers was guided by their ambitious mother, Gemma Cervetto. From 1903 to 1905 de Chirico studied painting at the Athens Polytechnic with Gerge Jacobides, of German culture. He completed his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence from 1905 – 06 and at the Akademie der Bildenen Kunste in Munich from 1906 to 1910, where he was strongly influenced by the German symbolist artists Max Kilnger, Hans Thoma and especially by Arnold Bocklin.
 In 1910 he went to live in Paris where he made the acquaintance of Guillaume Apollinaire, M. Jacob and Pablo Picasso and became interested in metaphysical painting, where all his repertory of enigmatic objects and visions from mannequins to the Squares of Italy are collected in an impossible space, because they are without prospective and infinite. The forms are often assimilated to geometric volumes which hint of the cubist influence and are set out as mysterious symbols.

Italy and Paris
 In February 1910 Savinio left for Paris, whilst de Chirico returned to Italy, first living in Milan, then in Florence. During a long illness he studied the writings of Arthur Schopenauer and Friedrich Nietzsche and created his first autonomous paintings free of the Bocklin influence. In July 1911, together with his mother, he joined Savinio in Paris, stopping on the way in Turin, the town in which the madness of Nietzsche began. At the 1912 Salon d’Automne, for the first time ,de Chirico exhibited his melancholy pictures of town squares populated by solitary monuments and enclosed by blind arcades.  
 He broke away from the traditional prospective and modelled illusionistic style, creating disconcerting spaces and strange collocations of objects, evoking disquieting and metaphysical realities. Toward the end of 1914 he introduced the iconography of the mannequin, influenced by the poetry and theatre of Savinio and Guillaume Apollinaire.

Metaphysical painting
 In 1915, when Italy entered the war, the brothers were both sent to Ferrara where they became acquainted with the poets Corrado Govoni and Filippo de Pisis, and in 1917 with the artist Carrà. During a period of hospitalisation at the Villa del Seminario military hospital, Carrà was profoundly influenced by de Chirico and together they contributed to the development of metaphysical painting. De Chirico painted a series of claustrophobic interiors filled with extravagant objects - biscuits, maps and frames, while the mannequins were given a new monumentality and placed on the background of scenes of Ferrara, as in the “Great metaphysics” (Grande metafisico) of 1917.

First personal exhibition
 At the end of the war he formulated his theory of metaphysical painting and the return of classicism in many writings, distancing himself from Carrà. Many of his writings were published in the magazine “Valori Plastici” edited by Mario Broglio from 1918-1922; this Roman magazine was also spokesman of the programme for a new Italian classicism. The first personal exhibition organised at the Bragaglia Gallery in 1919 inspired the sarcastic article of Roberto Longhi “Al dio ortopedico” (to the orthopaedic god).

Technical virtuosity
 In the next five years de Chirico returned to mythological themes under the influence of Brocklin and the Renaissance Masters. The technical virtuosity, which he had already demonstrated during the Ferrara period, reached its height in the self-portraits and the article “Il ritorno al mestiere” (The return to the craft) published by “Valori Plastici” in 1919. In 1924 the artist returned to Paris, attracted by the admiration for his works expressed by André Breton and the surrealistic artists; however, very soon differences of opinions arose between his artistic intentions and their Freudian interpretation of his works.

 The favour that the “first” de Chirico was shown by Breton, with the exclusion of the subsequent paintings, had considerable influence on his critical assessments. However, it was his second Parisian period that gave definite affirmation to the name of de Chirico.  In the middle ‘twenties he married the Russian actress Raisa Gurevich Kroll, who later studied archaeology at the Sorbona with Charles Picard. During the ’twenties  de Chirico reconsidered the theme of the mannequin, now composed of whimsical architectural elements and enwrapped in evocative brush strokes. He developed new cycles of “horses on the beach” (Cavalli sulla spiagga) and “gladiators” (gladiatori) fighting figures in closed environments. This latter series culminated in the “Room of the gladiators” (Sala dei gladiatori) for the house of Léonce Rosenberg painted between 1928 and 1929. 

A complete artist
 In 1929 he published his novel “Hebdomeros”, a masterpiece of surrealist literature. In 1931 he met Isabella Pakszwer Far who became his second wife. In the ‘thirties de Chirico divided his time between Paris and Italy; in 1933 he painted the museum dedicated to “Italian Culture”, which was unfortunately destroyed. For the Milan Triennial Exhibition he designed scenery and costumes for the theatre, for example those for Bellini’s opera, “The Puritans”   at the first Florentine “Maggio musicale”. In 1934 he completed a series of lithographs for Mythologie by Jean Cocteau, which gave origin to the series of “mysterious baths” (bagni misteriosi). After a visit to the United States, lasting from 1935 to 1937, in 1944 he established himself in Rome. He also  carried out activities as stage designer, signing among others, the drafts for “La Giara” in 1924 and for “La figlia di Jorio” in 1934.

Conservative de Chirico
 From the end of the ‘thirties, his works seemed to reflect a more conservative taste: he started to repeat many of his renowned metaphysical subjects. In the next two decades he continues his research on pictorial techniques, mixing bright emulsions of his own creation that facilitated the rich brushwork of the  “Baroque” still life works and the self-portraits  in costume. During this same period he caused controversies by producing copies and variations of his first masterpieces, emphasising by this the supremacy of the idea in relation to its various realisations. The situation was further complicated by the fact that he post-dated some works and by the presence of real forgeries in some retrospective exhibitions held after the war.

Important works

 The fame of de Chirico arises from a series of about 120 paintings that he produced in less than 10 years between 1911 and 1919. His subsequent works, however interesting they may be, have the mark of “after”.
“The disquieting Muses” (Le muse inquietanti) belonging to the Mattioli collection in Milan;
"The Troubadour" (Il Trovatore) in the Gallery of Modern Art in Venice, “Mysterious baths” (Bagni misteriosi) dated 1934-35.



Giorgio de Chirico " L'archeologo " 1927  Giorgio de Chirico " Les rivages de la Thessalie " 1926  Giorgio de Chirico " The Red Tower " (La Tour rouge) 1913  Giorgio de Chirico " Le triomphe" 1928-29



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