Giorgio de Chirico (Volos, 1888 – Roma, 1978) grew up in Greece, spent his formative years in the Munich of the Secession and matured in avant-garde Paris. Here he developed the theme of melancholy and the first paintings of the piazzas of Italy: visually electrifying, his works anticipated the avant-gardes and Surrealism.
Returning to Italy on the outbreak of the war, in 1915 he settled with his brother, Alberto Savinio, in Ferrara, where Filippo de Pisis and Carlo Carrà were also living, leading to the development of the complex phase of Ferrarese interiors and the Disquieting Muses: paintings with an originally figurative character but in which each subject becomes a vision with dreamlike and mysterious overtones. In 1918 he moved between Rome, Florence and Milan while maintaining his international contacts and, since 1924, again settled in Paris.
In these years his provocative and radical imagination made him one of the protagonists of international art. His fruitful New York experience (1935-37) was notable for a solo show at the Pierre Matisse Gallery (1935), with 8 metaphysical masterpieces chosen by Alfred Barr for the exhibition Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism (MoMA, 1936-37), and his decorative work for the Decorators Pictures Gallery – together with Picasso and Matisse – as well as the cover of Vogue in 1938.
In the same year he returned to Italy, and after a further stay in Paris, in 1944 the artist moved permanently to Rome, in his magnificent apartment in Piazza di Spagna.
Renewing his metaphysical inventions, de Chirico developed a new and sumptuous quality of painting that invested every subject and projected into the present the technical and inventive richness of painting that he provocatively termed that of the “Old Masters”. With a capacity that drew on Baroque impetuosity and a totally fantastic imagery made up of riders, landscapes and exuberant still lifes (he used the term “vite silenti” in preference to the usual Italian “nature morte”), de Chirico's painting entered into full contrast with contemporary art in the post-war period, confirming him again once, against all paradoxes, one of the masters of the mid-twentieth century.
Convinced that the road taken was the only plausible one, in 1948 he engaged in polemics directed against the Venice Biennale, which he accused of championing a modernist current. He organized a series of “anti-Biennali” in the spaces of the Bucintoro, not far from Piazza San Marco.
De Chirico, idolized and criticized, without slowing the flow of his painting, invented enchanted landscapes, irreverent self-portraits, with some in costume that anticipated today's themes of performance, to the point of claiming the right to reinvent the world of his Metaphysical paintings from early in the century. New fantastic inventions such as the sun on the easel, shadowy riders and weary troubadours were fatefully combined in the last years of his always vitalistic career with the Metaphysical rooms, the disquieting mannequins and the unique vision of this traveler in time and images.
Giorgio de Chirico died in Rome in November 1978.
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Mostra de Chirico
Palazzo Reale, Piazza del Duomo, 12 - 20122 Milano
Dal 25/09/2019 al 19/01/2020.
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