Volos (BOx), 1888 - Roma (RM), 1978
Joseph Maria Albertus Georgius de Chirico was born in Volos, Thessaly. Here he learnt the first rudiments of painting from master Mavrudis, Carlo Barbieri and the Swiss Jules-Louis Gillièron. In 1899 he moved with his family to Athens, where he attended the Jesuit Lyceum, and the polytechnic (from 1903). He also followed painting and drawing classes at the same time. After his father's death in 1906, he left Greece and moved first to Italy (he stayed in Rome, Venice and Milan) and then with his mother and brother Andrea (Alberto Savinio) to Munich. Here he attended the Academy of Fine Arts and followed Carl von Marr's courses. He alternated stays in Milan with stays in Munich and in 1909 he finally moved to the city in Lombardy. He often travelled to other Italian cities in this period (Rome, Turin, Florence). In Florence he dealt for the first time with "metaphysical themes" (1910). In 1911 he joined his mother and brother Andrea in Paris, where he exhibited for the first time in 1912, at the Salon d'Automne. In 1913 he was at the Salon des Indèpendents (where he returned again a year later) and his work was noticed by critics and especially Picasso and Apollinaire. The latter presented him at an exhibition organized at his studio and introduced him to gallery owner Paul Guillaume. De Chirico also caught the interest of Soffici who wrote about him in the magazine "Lacerba." In 1915 he returned to Italy with his brother, to present himself at the military district, but because he was suffering from a strong depression he was not sent to the frontline but to Ferrara, where he had a desk-job. Here he met de Pisis, the poet Corrado Govoni and - through Soffici - Carrà. He came into contact with the Dada group and participated in an exhibition in Zurich. In 1918 he moved to Rome where he participated in the "I Mostra d'Arte Indipendente" with Carrà, Prampolini, Riccardi, Soffici and Ferrazzi. The following year he held his first personal exhibition at the Casa d'Arte Bragaglia and the first monograph on him was published by the art magazine "Valori Pastici". In the early Twenties he lived in Rome, Milan and Florence, dividing his time between these places, and studied painting techniques - learning to use the varnish on egg tempera from the Russian Nicola Locoff. In 1921 he held a personal exhibition at the Galleria Arte in Milan and in 1922 at the Galerie Guillaume in Paris (with a presentation by Andrè Breton) and at La Fiorentina in Florence Spring (with a presentation by Morandi). In 1923 he exhibited at the Turin Quadriennale and at the Rome Biennale. In 1924 he exhibited at the Venice Biennale (he returned again in 1942 and 1948), at the Galleria Pesaro in Milan, the Casa d'Arte Bragaglia in Rome and he also started working on costumes and scenery for numerous plays. He continued exhibiting in Italy but in 1925 he moved to Paris where he exhibited at Lèonce Rosenberg's Galerie (1928). Also he decorated a room in Lèonce Rosenberg's house, with a cycle Gladiators. In 1933 he returned to Italy and exhibited at the Venice Biennale. He participated in the Milan Triennale (1934) and in the Rome Quadriennale (1935 and 1939). He held a personal exhibition at Julien Levy's in New York, participated in Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism in MoMa and collaborated with magazines like "Harper's Bazaar" and "Vogue". He also exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in Boston and participated in the Exhibition of Italian Contemporary Art in New York. In Italy he exhibited at the Sala d'Arte della Nazione in Florence and at the Galleria Barbaroux in Milan. In 1941 he published illustrations - twenty in all - for the book L'Apocalisse, edited by Raffaele Carrieri. In 1943 he exhibited at the Rome Quadriennale and held a personal exhibition at Peggy Guggenheim's "Art of this Century". In 1949 the Royal Society of British Artists in London dedicated a personal exhibition to him. In 1950 de Chirico organized the Antibiennale in Venice, Following a dispute with the organizers of the Biennale. During the Fifties he devoted himself to creating scenery and costumes for numerous plays, while during the Sixties he illustrated some literary masterpieces, such as Manzoni's Promise of Fidelity and Homer's Iliad. In 1970 the municipality of Milan dedicated an anthological exhibition at the Palazzo Reale to him. In 1974 he was elected member of the French Acadèmie des Beaux-Arts de Paris and an exhibition was devoted to him. In 1976 he received the Grosse Bundesverdienstkreuz der Bundesrepublik Deutschland and in 1978 he celebrated his ninetieth birthday at the Capitol in Rome. He died here on 20 November 1978.
"One should never forget that the word 'technique' comes from the Greek word 'Technè', 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)
Registration is required to access this document.