Thoughts to reflect on: Giorgio de Chirico and his Metaphysical painting

Photo credit: Giorgio de Chirico in his studio;
Giorgio de Chiricho
Giorgio de Chirico (10 July 1888 – 20 November 1978) was an Italian painter born in Greece. He is famous for founding the scuola metafisica (metaphysical movement) along with Carlo Carra – another Italian painter. Even before he met Carra, de Chirico had developed his metaphysical style of painting, inspired by painters like Arnold Böcklin and Max Klinger. His other great influence was the philosophical works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer, and notably the Greek mythology and Roman Architecture. De Chirico's metaphysical paintings had a huge impact on the later Surrealist movement, which is more than obvious in the paintings of Salvador Dalí and René Magritte – timeless perspective, illusionary figures, intense and extraordinary imagery. Paradoxically, the later career of Giorgio de Chirico passed under the mark of classical techniques and iconography, which he advocated in his article Valori plastici entitled "The Return of Craftsmanship". Although he was often criticizing his own earlier metaphysical paintings and became a major opponent of Modern art in general, he often made reproductions of his earlier works and is remembered mostly for his metaphysical visionary paintings.

Pittura Metafisica

Metaphysical Art is characterized by the hidden, unexpected meanings and suggestions found beneath the outlines and the visible shape of figures. There is something more like an omen, invisible appearances, and signs, or subtle psychological tendencies. De Chirico's style is somewhat similar to psychoanalysis in the world of art. Strange perspectives, empty squares, long shadows, hybrid mannequin-like bodies that look like unconscious drives or yet unmodeled thoughts and sensations. Metaphysical paintings combine everyday reality with mythology, and evoke inexplicable moods of nostalgia, tense expectation, and estrangement. De Chirico's landscapes are silent, solitary, melancholic, immersed in an unreal light and are at times disturbing, they have a powerful dreamlike quality. The picture space often feature illogical, contradictory, and drastically receding perspectives. Among de Chirico's most frequent motifs are arcades, of which he wrote: "The Roman arcade is fate ... its voice speaks in riddles which are filled with a peculiarly Roman poetry".

Not only a genius painter but a great thinker Giorgio de Chirico is frequently quoted. Here you could enjoy and muse upon some of his thoughts and paintings:

"Everything has two aspects: the current aspect, which we see nearly always and which ordinary men see, and the ghostly and metaphysical aspect, which only rare individuals may see in moments of clairvoyance and metaphysical abstraction."

"A work of art must narrate something that does not appear within its outline. The objects and figures represented in it must likewise poetically tell you of something that is far away from them and also of what their shapes materially hide from us."

"To become truly immortal, a work of art must escape all human limits: logic and common sense will only interfere. But once these barriers are broken, it will enter the realms of childhood visions and dreams."

"One must picture everything in the world as an enigma, and live in the world as if in a vast museum of strangeness."

"There is much more mystery in the shadow of a man walking on a sunny day, than in all religions of the world."

"When I close my eyes my vision is even more powerful."

"Although the dream is a very strange phenomenon and an inexplicable mystery, far more inexplicable is the mystery and aspect our minds confer on certain objects and aspects of life."

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Wednesday, 20 October 2021

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