Museo Rimoldi - de Chirico Giorgio

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Giorgio de Chirico

Volos (Grecia), 1888 - Roma (RM), 1978

Giorgio de Chirico was born in Volos (Thessaly, Greece) on July 10th, 1888. His mother was  from Genoa and his father of Sicilian descent. In Volos he first learnt the basics of painting with master Mavrudis, then with Carlo Barbieri and Swiss Jules-Louis Gilliéron. In 1899, his family moved to Athens where young de Chirico attended the Polytechnic and studied drawing under the guidance of professor Jacobidis from the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. At the Polytechnic, de Chirico trained on black and white copies of Greek and Roman sculptures’ casts. He interrupted his studies after his father’s death in 1905 and the subsequent decision by his mother to leave Greece. In August 1906, the de Chiricos settled in Italy. The family - composed by Giorgio, his mother, and his brother Andrea, better known under the pseudonym Alberto Savinio - sojourned in Florence, Venice, and Milan where they visited museums and art galleries. From 1907 to 1909, Giorgio moved to Munich with his brother to attend the Academy of Fine Arts, where he would form his own artistic personality on the pictorial texts of Böcklin and Klinger as well as on the philosophical writings of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Weininger. During the two-year period, de Chirico divided his time between  Milan and Munich and in 1909 he eventually settled in the Italian city. In the following years, he would frequently travel to other Italian towns, Rome, Turin, and Florence, where, in 1910, the artist addressed “metaphysical” themes for the first time. In 1911, he reached his mother and brother in Paris, and the following year exhibited for the first time at Salon d’Automne. In 1915, de Chirico and his brother went back to Italy to report to the Military district; however, due to a serious depression, de Chirico was not sent to fight on the frontline, but to Ferrara, where he would perform office work. In Ferrara, he met de Pisis, poet Corrado Govoni, and, thanks to Soffici, Carrà. These were the years when in the shadow of Castello Estense the artist’s precise poetical identity began to emerge and some of his masterpieces were conceived, namely: The Disquieting Muses, Hector and Andromache, The Great Metaphysician. He also joined the Dadaist group and exhibited in Zurich. In 1918, de Chirico moved to Rome and exhibited at the 1st “Exhibition on Independent Art” with Carrà, Prampolini, Riccardi, Soffici, and Ferrazzi. The following year, he organized his first personal exhibition at Casa d’Arte Bragaglia and the “Valori Plastici” art journal published the first monograph on the artist. In the early Twenties, de Chirico lived  between Rome, Milan, and Florence where he studied painting techniques and learnt the use of “tempera grassa” (egg oil emulsion) under the Russian master Nicola Locoff. In 1924, he took part in the Venice Biennale, where he would return for further editions. In this period he regularly visited museums and was deeply attracted by Renaissance and Baroque painting. His studies on the great masters of the past heralded a significant change in his artistic orientation, also theorized in the articles in which he advocated “a return to museums, crafts, and techniques”. Themes, techniques, and fantastic elaborations merged and overlapped in the works of this period, hinting at metaphysical motifs and  theatrical suggestions. In 1946, the artist claimed as fakes the paintings from the Twenties and Thirties exhibited in the retrospective organized at Galerie Allard, Paris. De Chirico was extremely annoyed by the appalling number of forgeries in circulation. In 1949, the artist set up a personal exhibition at the Royal Society of British Artists, London. Simultaneously, the London Gallery intentionally exhibited only his metaphysical paintings. The works displayed at the Royal Society would later be exhibited in Venice at the anti-Biennale editions, as opposed to those selected for the event staged by the Biennale. De Chirico would continue to paint metaphysical works alongside “classical “ works. In 1970, a great anthological exhibition devoted to his art was staged in Milan earning him major awards both in Italy and abroad. De Chirico died in his house in Rome in 1978.


“One should never forget that the word ‘technique’ comes from the Greek word ‘Techné’, which means Art[...] I’ve never stopped and I’ve always thought technique is everything in art creation[...], I’ve never stopped, but I’ve always continued searching, experimenting, making and remaking, to constantly improve the quality of my painting and to work with more confidence and more freedom.” (de Chirico, 1945)