Thursday, April 2, 2009

Giorgio De Chirico

Giorgio de Chirico - L'enigme d'un jour (II), 1914

We've made our first gallery visit, spending a couple of hours wandering through the 170 paintings, sculptures and graphic works which represent some of the life work of Giorgio de Chirico. The exhibition "La Fabrique des Rêves" is being shown at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

De Chirico is best known for the paintings he produced in the earliest stages of his career, between 1909 and 1919, known as his metaphysical period. This was undoubtedly my favourite part of the exhibition. This period screams loneliness, isolation, confusion.

There are empty squares in late afternoon sun, populated only by reclining sculptures, or occasionally tiny silhouetted figures in the distance with shadows stretching languidly, dominated by slightly askew architecture and arches while steam trains or sailboats move silently in the distance. Some of these later metaphysical paintings also included faceless mannequins, also occasionally located in lonely piazzas.

During this phase de Chirico was a darling of the surrealists, but not too long after WWI his style followed more classical influences and he fell out of favour with the surrealists and was even loudly ridiculed by some of them.

If you're interested in seeing some of de Chirico's art, check it out here.

Something I found interesting about de Chirico's later period was his willingness to revisit and repaint the famous themes, even straight out reproductions, of his earliest, most celebrated works. This was years before Andy Warhol, a spoken admirer, would recreate his own works repeatedly. There is also a Warhol retrospective currently running in Paris, although we caught the wonderful Warhol exhibition at GOMA in Brisbane last year.

These Giorgio de Chirico "reproductions" made up the majority of the paintings exhibited in the last room (along with a collection of rather bizarre self portraits, many in period costumes) and you could sense that there was no passion on these later reproduced works ... less despair, more haste. De Chirico was said to become a self-quoter, repainting his early works repeatedly, sometimes containing inaccurate dates, and shamelessly announcing at one point that money was his aim. I'm sure Dali also would have been proud.

This is the first Giorgio de Chirico retrospective in Paris in more than 25 years, and it was a fun way to spend an afternoon, wandering through "dreamlike metaphysical fantasies, with their eerily empty city squares and faceless mannequins ... precursors of the Surrealist movement of the early 1920s."

No comments: