- Also known as
Giorgio de Chirico
primary name: Chirico, Giorgio de
other name: De Chirico, Giorgio
- individual; painter/draughtsman; Italian; Male
- Life dates
- Text from Martin Hopkinson, 'Italian Prints 1875-1975', BMP, 2007
Born in Volos in central Greece, halfway between Athens and Salonica, Giorgio De Chirico was the son of a railway engineer. His family's regular travel to the capital provided a stimulus for some of the themes in his art, in which the ancient and modern worlds are combined. He and his younger brother, the composer, writer, and painter Andrea (1891-1952), who took the pseudonym Alberto Savinio, received a thorough grounding in classical history, languages, and mythology. De Chirico studied painting at the Athens Polytechnic from 1903 to 1905, before moving to Florence on the death of his father, where he attended the Accademia delle Belle Arti. However, it was his period from 1906 to 1910 at the Akademie der Bildende Künste in Munich, which proved his most significant artistic training. De Chirico was influenced by Max Klinger, Hans Thoma, and, in particular, Arnold Böcklin. In 1910, he returned to Italy, and devoted himself to the study of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, before following his brother to Paris the following year. For the rest of his career, his art could be seen to be based on the second half of Nietzsche's 'The Birth of Tragedy' and the 'Spirit of Music'. De Chirico began painting a succession of haunting arcaded city squares, captured, when the sun cast its deepest shadows, and often populated only by mysterious statues, a theme that was to recur throughout his career. His style owed more to German art, including the Nazarenes, than to any French artist. He became a friend of the Polish born poet, Guillaume Apollinaire, who applied the term 'metaphysical' to his pictures. The two men shared a German- Italian education. Inspired by one of his brother's poems, De Chirico introduced the mannequin into his work.
De Chirico was called up in 1915 to serve in the Italian army, and was posted with his brother to Ferrara. There, he met Carlo Carrà, who became his close associate in the development of Metaphysical Painting, in which canvas stretchers, toys and various geometrical objects were depicted in claustrophobic spaces. After the war, De Chirico became preoccupied with mythological subject matter and classical sculpture. He made his first lithograph, 'Orestes and Pilades', in 1921, which was only published, by the Bauhaus in Weimar, in 1925 in the portfolio, 'Neue Europäische Graphik'. De Chirico made five etchings in 1927, and made the occasional intaglio print later in the 1920s and 1930s. Most of De Chirico's prints were in fact lithographs. An exception was a single linocut made for the journal, 'XXe Siècle', in 1938. He only began to make etchings in a significant number in 1969, towards the end of his career. Of De Chirico's 385 recorded prints, 165 lithographs and 44 intaglio prints were made between 1969 and 1977. The vast majority of De Chirico's prints were published in portfolios, or livres d'artiste, beginning with the 66 prints for Apollinaire's 'Calligrammes', which were printed by Desjobert and published in 1930 by Gallimard in Paris. He had returned to Paris in 1924, settling there the following year, and he spent much of the next decade there. De Chirico's art was greatly admired by the poet, André Breton and by the Surrealists, and, in 1929, he published a novel, 'Hebdomeros', one of the finest pieces of Surrealist literature. He received a major mural commission for the 1933 Milan Triennale, and designed the sets and costumes for Bellini's 'I Puritani'. In 1935, the success of a series of New York exhibitions attracted him to the United States, where he spent three years. De Chirico's later work frequently recapitulated his early masterpieces. He paid tribute both in his paintings and writings to Courbet and Derain, and his late work is often seen as parallel to the late pictures of Picabia.
Metaphysical painter and brother of Alberto Savinio
See April - May 1919 issue of periodical 'Valori Plastici' (ed. Mario Broglio) and de Chirico's article on 'Sull'arte metafisica' in which he advocates the portrayal of the mysterious aspect of things, meditates upon the absence of human beings, every profound work contains a 'plastic solitude', and debates French realism v. Italian idealism. In 1922 de Chirico wrote introduction to Valori Palstici section of spring exhibition in Florence in which he praised Morandi's work for 'that great lyricism, the metaphysics of the most ordinary objects'.
- C. Bruni Sakraischik (ed.), 'Catalogo generale dell'opera di GdC', 8 vols, Milan 1971-8
A Ciranna, 'Catalogo dell'opera grafica 1921-1969', 1969