Giorgio de Chirico #DigLit

While the official Surrealist movement was launched in 1924, Chirico began painting 14 years earlier in Florence.

Giorgio de Chirico was born in Italy to Greek parents on July 10, 1888. Chirico studied art at the Higher School of Fine Arts in Athens until his father’s death in 1905. Chirico’s mother moved him and his siblings to Athens, Greece where he spent two years at the Academy of Fine Arts. Chirico was influenced by the European Symbolic Artists and their use of dream-like imagery. Chirico also loved classical art and decided to combine the two, which is represented by early work such as Enigma of an Autumn Afternoon “in which the long, sinister, and illogical shadows cast by unseen objects onto empty city spaces contrast starkly with bright, clear light that is rendered in brooding green tonalities” (Britannica) .

The Enigma of an Autumn Afternoon, c1910 1ac.jpg Enigma of an Autumn Afternoon by Giorgio de Chirico

Chirico moved to Paris in 1911 where he met Picasso and Apollinaire. They admired his series of paintings of deserted piazzas.

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The Soothsayer’s Recompense by Chirico



In 1915 Chirico and his brother were conscripted into the army where after several months Chirico had a nervous breakdown and spent some time in a military hospital. It was there that he met Carlo Carrà who helped Chirico to develop his metaphysical paintings.

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The Turin Melancholy (1915) Chirico photo cc Wiki Art



The Philosopher’s Conquest by Chirico

Chirico and Carrà have been accredited with the Metaphysical movement but it only lasted for a short period before the two quarreled and parted ways. After 1919 Chirico had lost the dream like quality that dominated his earlier works. He rediscovered his love for the Italian Renaissance and Romanesque Classics. It was at this time ironically that the Surrealist were just beginning to discover his work. Breton was a great admirer of his work and Chirico’s painting The Enigma of a Day hung in Breton’s studio for several years. The surrealists welcomed Chirico with open arms but were dismayed at his most recent work. They encouraged him to return to his earlier style of painting but he refused. This refusal caused a rift. Breton and several other surrealists artists denounced him in their surrealist magazine, La Révolution Surréalist. Chirico denounced the Surrealist group, his earlier work and “even dismissed some of his pre-1922 paintings as forgeries!” (Tomkins). Chirico went back to Italy and continued to paint academic pictures but occasionally would paint a “forgery” for funds.

Chirico was one of the artists I remember studying in my Art History course, most specifically his painting The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street.



The Song of Love by Chirico photo CC Wiki Art


Enigma of a Day 1914 photo cc


Gare Montparnasse (The Melancholy of Departure) 1914 photo cc of Wiki Art


Delights of the Poet 1913


The Two Masks 1926


Le Rêve transformé 1913


Hector and Andromache 1912


The Enigma of the Hour 1911


The Anxious Journey 1913

These are just some of his works, if you type Giorgio de Chirico paintings into google a list of paintings will pop up that you can look at.


Tomkins, C., & Duchamp, M. (1966). The world of Marcel Duchamp, 1887-. New York: Time.



2 thoughts on “Giorgio de Chirico #DigLit

  1. As I was reading about Chirico, I couldn’t help but think how much different his life would have been if they’d had social media back then. “Yo Surrealists, looky at this guy’s work! I’m going to make it my FB cover image!” 😉 Seriously though, it’s hard to imagine how slowly recognition was, at that time.


    1. It really is crazy to think that by the time he was done with Surrealism the movement hadn’t even been officially started! I’ve been doing some reading and am discovering that a lot of the artists that are famous for their surrealist paintings never considered themselves Surrealist artists.


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