ART QUOTES: Giorgio De Chirico

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Giorgio De Chirico “The Melancholy of Departure”

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“Profound statements must be drawn by the artist from the most secret recesses of his being; there no murmuring torrent, no bird song, no rustle of leaves can distract him.”

-Giorgio De Chirico

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Italian painter Giorgio De Chirico (July 10, 1888-November 20, 1978) understood the power that comes from experiencing the stillness inside. For a brief period running about a decade, from 1909-1919, De Chirico worked in a mode he described as Metaphysical painting. He explained:

“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.”

 

Giorgio de Chirico Melancholia, 1916 The Menil Collection, Houston Photo: Hickey-Robertson, Houston

Giorgio De Chirico “Melancholia”

 These early works were hugely influential. An exhibit of these paintings hanging in a Paris gallery helped launch the Surrealist movement in the 1920s. While creating paintings under the Metaphysical influence, De Chirico created a visual metaphor for the haunted emptiness of the Modern era. The eerie depictions of timeless landscapes filled with a vague atmosphere of foreboding  captured a sense of dreams and the unconscious, which Surrealist writers and artists used as a departure point for their own mysterious explorations.

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Giorgio De Chirico “The Nostalgia of the Infinite”

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Giorgio De Chirico “The Disquieting Muses”

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Ultimately De Chirico evolved into a different kind of artist. He rejected Modern art and followed the example of Old Masters like Peter Paul Rubens.

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A later Giorgio De Chirico: “Two Horses by a Lake”

His more classical works never generated the same excitement that his youthful paintings did. Di Chirico spent the rest of his long life alternately denouncing his Metaphysical phase, and wickedly making profitable, backdated self-forgeries of his innovative early pieces.

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It must have been frustrating to be considered a has-been, but it seems to me working without integrity must have inflicted its own kind of terrible punishment. It’s hard to account for what goes on in the hearts of men, especially artists.

But for at least a few years, Giorgio De Chirico revealed an accurate vision of the Twentieth Century, with all its dread, precision and solitude.

“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.”

-Giorgio De Chirico

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Giorgio De Chirico “The Great Tower”

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