Giorgio de Chirico

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Giorgio de Chirico was a renowned Italian artist, who had a profound influence on the Surrealist movement, and the art society of 1910s and 1920s and with remarkably captivating and mysteriously attractive paintings. Through his art, Chirico wanted to explain and shed light on the hidden and often ignored aspect of human life, his commonly used subjects would be some mysterious and puzzling scenes from empty cities, frightening and intimidating statues, enigmatic shadows and obscure combinations of everyday things. He was a great admirer of the metaphysical art, and some of his work inspired by it includes, “The Enigma of an Autumn Afternoon,” “The Soothsayer’s Recompense” and “The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street.”

Giorgio de Chirico was born on July 10, 1888, to Italian immigrants in Volos, located in the Thessaly region of Greece. He began his education and training in arts at the Higher School of Fine Arts in Athens. In 1905, his father passed away and his mother, along with her three children, moved to Munich. In Munich, Chirico enrolled himself at the Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied for the next two years. Upon completing his education at the Academy, Giorgio decided to take his education and artistic learning in his own hands, and his interest were piqued by the philosophical works of Friedrich Nietzsche and Arthur Schopenhauer. In 1908, Giorgio decided to return to Italy his homeland, where he spent his time extensively traveling through Milan, Turin and finally settling in Florence.

Chirico drew his earliest artistic inspiration from the European Symbolist movement and he was quite fascinated with creating surreal and hypnagogic imagery. Some of his earliest works depict a strong Symbolist influence coupled with his passion for the classic relics and antiqueness inspired by his stay in Greece and later Italy. His work exuded philosophical meaning and opinion about the harsh and naked realities of nature.

In 1911, Giorgio joined his brother, Andrea, in Paris, France and showcased an exhibition of his work among the art circles of prominent and renowned artists, which included Constantin Brâncuși and Pablo Picasso. During his stay in Paris that lasted till 1915, Giorgio produced some of his most iconic and popular works, including “The Soothsayer’s Recompense” and “The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street”. His works revolved around lonely figures or solitary monuments that were erected amidst enigmatic scenes of classical architecture.

With the onset of the WWI, Giorgio and his brother enlisted into the Italian Army, and in 1915, De Chirico was stationed in Ferrara. However, soon he collapsed because of a nervous breakdown and was admitted to a military hospital.

In 1917, De Chirico met notable artist Carlo Carrà, who had a profound impact on his style and helped him redefine and perfect his approach of metaphysical painting by enhancing the importance of ordinary, ever day objects, scenes and places. De Chirico’s most influential and widely acclaimed metaphysical works include, “Love Song”, “The Seer”, and “The Disquieting Muses”. Soon he established his position as one of the most influential and popular artists to have a great impact on the European art circles, and he was in fact, one of the pioneers of the recently formed Surrealist school of artists whose work revolved around the subconscious mind and dream analysis.

Although, de Chirico did not openly brand himself as a Surrealist, he would show his works at exhibitions organized by Surrealists in Paris from time to time. In 1920, he completely revolutionized his techniques, and adopted a neo-traditional style that took its inspiration from the Renaissance era and the iconic works of the Old Master like Titian and Raphael. This turning point in his approach broke his ties with the Surrealists and marked an end to his modern artistic approach.

His later career was rather controversial because his reputation was greatly damaged after a scandal involving false dated copies of his works hit the art circles. His involvement in the artistic societies diminished however, he largely became involved in working on theatre designs, sculptures and some book illustrations.

Giorgio de Chirico died on November 10, 1978, in Rome, Italy.


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