Obelisk Art History
The Artists

Giorgio de Chirico
Enchanted spaces in the city of Nietzsche

Giorgio de Chirico, The Artists
Portrait of Giorgio de Chirico

Giorgio de Chirico was born to an Italian family living in Greece, and studied in Athens, Florence, and Munich, where he was influenced by Nietzsche’s philosophy and Arnold Böcklin’s Symbolist art. In 1910, de Chirico moved to Paris where he made contact with Picasso and befriended Guillaume Apollinaire, French poet and leader of the avant-garde’s rejection of poetic worldviews, aesthetic, and language. In Paris de Chirico began to produce troubling, dreamlike pictures of deserted cities, like The Great Tower, The Soothsayer’s Recompense, Mystery and Melancholy of a Street—fantastic combinations of images charged with mystery and haunting iconography.

In 1917, de Chirico met the painter Carlo Carrà, and together they founded a proto-movement they called Metaphysical painting. Although short-lived, it was one of the most original movements in Italian art of the 20th century, still considered by critics to be the high point of de Chirico’s career. Metaphysical art was hugely influential to the developing Surrealist artists, who recognized the expression of the unconscious and nonsensical they aspired to.

But de Chirico was uninterested in shepherding the avant-garde, and in the 1930s, denounced his previous work and began studying the techniques of the old masters. His final paintings walk a weird line between modern painting techniques and neoclassical subject matter—full of horses, still-lifes, and formal portraits. The Surrealists, in particular, hated de Chirico’s later work, but I for one, love it.

Reed Enger, "Giorgio de Chirico, Enchanted spaces in the city of Nietzsche," in Obelisk Art History, Published March 25, 2015; last modified September 19, 2022, http://arthistoryproject.com/artists/giorgio-de-chirico/.

Giorgio de Chirico was an Italian Metaphysical Artist born on July 10, 1888. de Chirico contributed to the Surrealist and Futurist movements, worked in Italy, Germany, France and the United States and died on November 20, 1978.

Christ and the Storm, Giorgio de Chirico

Christ and the Storm 1914

The Philosopher's Conquest, Giorgio de Chirico

The Philosopher's Conquest 1914

The Song of Love, Giorgio de Chirico

The Song of Love 1914

Turin Spring, Giorgio de Chirico

Turin Spring 1914

The Grand Metaphysician, Giorgio de Chirico

The Grand Metaphysician 1917

The Disquieting Muses, Giorgio de Chirico

The Disquieting Muses 1916 – 1918

The Terrible Games, Giorgio de Chirico

The Terrible Games 1925

Archaeologists, Giorgio de Chirico

Archaeologists 1926

Le Rive Della Tessaglia, Giorgio de Chirico

Le Rive Della Tessaglia 1926

The Painter's Family, Giorgio de Chirico

The Painter's Family 1926

The Two Masks, Giorgio de Chirico

The Two Masks 1926

The Archaeologists, Giorgio de Chirico

The Archaeologists 1927

The Eventuality of Destiny, Giorgio de Chirico

The Eventuality of Destiny 1927

La Cohorte Invincible, Giorgio de Chirico

La Cohorte Invincible 1928

Cavalli, Giorgio de Chirico

Cavalli 1930

Bathers on the Beach, Giorgio de Chirico

Bathers on the Beach 1934

Cavalli in Riva al Mare, Giorgio de Chirico

Cavalli in Riva al Mare 1934

America is no longer a new world but is, and always will be, another world. It is ... a question of molecules, of climate, of different atmosphere, of the special quality of the sun’s rays.

I have been to New York 1938

It is often said of a picture: this picture is not extraordinary, it is nothing remarkable, but “it shows great sensitiveness”.

Sensitiveness 1944

Self Portrait in Black Costume, Giorgio de Chirico

Self Portrait in Black Costume 1948

The Divine Horses, Giorgio de Chirico

The Divine Horses 1963

The divine horses of Achilles, Balios and Xanthos, Giorgio de Chirico

The divine horses of Achilles, Balios and Xanthos 1963

Piazza d'Italia, Giorgio de Chirico

Piazza d'Italia 1964

The Prodigal Son, Giorgio de Chirico

The Prodigal Son 1965

The Mute Orpheus, Giorgio de Chirico

The Mute Orpheus 1971

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The Memoirs Of Giorgio De Chirico, Recommended Reading

De Chirico's memoirs are like his artwork—strangely fixated on seemingly insignificant events, opinionated, surreal, mercurial, bitter, curious, and always mysterious.

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