Giorgio De Chirico

Giorgio de Chirico was born into an Italian family on 10 July 1888 in Volos, Greece. From childhood he studied drawing, firstly in Athens, then, following the death of his father in 1905, at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, where he added painting classes to his training. It was here that he was influenced by the painters Arnold Böcklin and Max Klinger, as well as Wagner and the philosophers Schopenhauer and, most of all, Nietzsche. This neoclassical metropolis had a significant impact on his vision of the city. After a trip to Milan and Turin, taking in the rectilinear forms of Italian cities, he moved to Paris in 1911. The avant-garde writers, including Guillaume Apollinaire, were the most fervent champions of his painting, in which they recognised the appeal of the dream world and the various levels of the unconscious that would so captivate the Surrealists and become central to their work. While De Chirico’s art at the time conjured frozen cityscapes with a single vanishing point, as inherited from the Renaissance, or placed impersonal objects centre stage, from 1915 mannequins and caryatids began to appear, their heads adorned with the infinity symbol. In a logical progression he began work on his Metaphysical Interiors series, which provided the viewer with a concrete picture of the inner complexities of the contemporary man. The terminology of “metaphysical painting” itself came to De Chirico through the works of the Austrian philosopher Otto Weininger, who proposed metaphysics as a universal symbolic system. He joined the Surrealists in 1924, participating in their first exhibition in 1925. But from 1928, while he was creating costumes for the Swedish Ballet and for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, and just as André Breton’s Surrealism and Painting was being published, his separation from this group was already finalised. The Surrealists, who opposed his stylistic change marked by a return to Classicism, organised an exhibition entitled Here Lies Giorgio de Chirico. In reaction to the scorn he attracted – and courted – from the press, De Chirico turned towards academicism and “art pompier ”, producing a number of staged self-portraits in the style of great figures in the history of art with varying degrees of provocation and distance. He further damaged his reputation by making copies, or having copies made, of paintings from his metaphysical period, which then flooded the art market. Nevertheless, his painting was so significant at the beginning of the century that André Breton considered it the equal of Lautréamont’s writing. Giorgio de Chirico died in Rome on 20 November 1978 at the age of 90.


Previous exhibitions (selection)

Giorgio de Chirico. Capolavori dalla collezione di Francesco Federico Cerruti, Museo d’arte contemporanea del Castello di Rivoli, Rivoli (Italy)
Reading De Chirico, galerie Tornabuoni Art, Paris (France)
El mundo de Giorgio De Chirico. Sueño o realidad, CaixaForum-Madrid, Madrid (Espagne)

Giorgio De Chirico. Magie der Moderne
, Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart (Germany)

De Chirico a Ferrara. Metafisica e avanguardie, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrare (Italy)

Giorgio De Chirico. La fabrique des rêves, musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris (France)

De Chirico, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (France)

Giorgio de Chirico, Museum of Modern Art, New York (United States)