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Giorgio Chirico and the Influence of Philosophy in His Metaphysical Art.

10th July 2024. ON THIS DAY

Giorgio de Chirico, born on July 10th, 1888, was an Italian artist whose Metaphysical Art was deeply influenced by philosophy. His works, created between 1911 and 1917, were unlike anything else being produced in Europe at the time. They were termed “Metaphysical Painting” by French poet and critic Guillaume Apollinaire and became fundamental to the development of Surrealism.

Giorgio De Chirico art presented enigmatic scenes that transcended conventional reality, offering dreamlike scenarios that were disorienting, confounding, and emotionally charged. Influenced by his study of philosophy and literature, his paintings delved into themes of vastness, solitude, immobility, and stasis, evoking a sense of melancholy and mystery.

Giorgio De Chirico Art

During his Paris period from 1911 to 1915, paintings of Giorgio De Chirico frequently depicted empty town squares in a melancholic shade of yellow. These plazas, devoid of human presence except for small figures with long shadows or faceless mannequins, created an eerie atmosphere. Recurring motifs in his work included towers, chimneys, architectural arcades, clocks, fragments of marble sculptures, and the enigmatic presence of a large pink rubber glove.

Giorgio De Chirico Gare Montparnasse.
Courtesy: Wikipedia

Giorgio De Chirico’s artworks were often described as writing down of dreams, capturing the sensation of vastness and solitude that one experiences at the point of sleep. His paintings offered strange juxtapositions that reflected the dislocation and anxiety of the modern world. The absence of people in his cityscapes, particularly in the context of our contemporary world, evokes a haunting sense of emptiness and raises questions about the significance of public spaces without human presence.

In addition to philosophy, Giorgio de Chirico paintings drew inspiration from Greek mythology, particularly through the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche. The myth of Ariadne, who guided Theseus out of the labyrinth, appeared in several of his paintings as a statue in a public square. Giorgio Chirico connected this myth with the spirit of knowledge and the enigma, and his portrayal of Ariadne influenced many later Surrealists.

Metaphysical Art in Paintings of Giorgio de Chirico

While some early scholars believed that Giorgio Di Chirico drew greater inspiration from antiquities and Renaissance art, a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 1982 challenged this assumption. Curator William Rubin interpreted de Chirico’s art as a critique of classicism rather than a celebration of it. De Chirico’s use of perspectival shifts and distorted architectural elements subverted Classicism, conveying a sense of dislocation and reflecting the malaise of Modern life.

Giorgio De Chirico The Song Of Love.
Courtesy: Wikipedia

De Chirico’s Metaphysical Art, characterized by its restrained clarity and evocative mystery, expressed his love for the classical past. He treated scenes not as conventional cityscapes but as haunted streets encountered in dreams. His innovative approach, reminiscent of theatrical set design, resulted in paintings that were described as “dream writings,” disordered collections of symbols rather than literal depictions of dreams.

With Giorgio de Chirico, Surrealism always follows the conversation, however, despite being associated with Surrealism, de Chirico’s conservative attitude toward art, influenced by his academic training and appreciation for the Old Masters, set him apart from his Modernist contemporaries. In the 1920s, he shifted towards a style that embraced craftsmanship and references to Renaissance and Baroque art.

Giorgio de Chirico’s Metaphysical Art remains a testament to the profound influence of philosophy on his creative vision. His exploration of dreamlike scenarios, enigmatic symbolism, and the clash between the past and the present continues to captivate and intrigue art enthusiasts and scholars alike.


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