London Art Reviews

Magazine of art press and reviews from London

Giorgio De Chirico sculpture exhibition at the Estorick Collection, London.

Giorgio De Chirico sculpture exhibition at the Estorick Collection, London.

David Franchi – Thursday, 8th May 2104.

 The Disquieting Muses, 1968 Giorgio de Chirico ©DACS 2014 Courtesy Galleria d’Arte Maggiore, Bologna (Italy)

The Disquieting Muses, 1968 Giorgio de Chirico ©DACS 2014 Courtesy Galleria d’Arte Maggiore, Bologna (Italy)

Giorgio De Chirico: Myth and Mystery” exhibition has been successful, at the Estorick Collection, London.

The Estorick exhibition gave the chance to approach the puzzling world of De Chirico, who was the inventor of Metaphysical art.

The exhibition “Giorgio De Chirico: Myth and Mystery” was focused on sculpture the artist made during his life. It was organised with Bologna’s Galleria d’Arte Maggiore, with which Estorick recently collaborated on the successful exhibition of etchings by Giorgio Morandi.

The exhibition hosted twenty rarely seen sculptural works and a selection of drawings and paintings. The rooms of the exhibition were organised in a way that visitors could feel the presence of the statues, such as they were alive bodies. Shaped in a Metaphysical artstyle, the displayed works were giving a sensation of moving and getting closer to the visitor.

The position of the sculptures, therefore, reflects the conception of De Chirico about statues in a museum which look different, according to the artist. It is a dissimilar appearance statues have in respect from when they are outside, for example on a roof or in greenery. The lines of the building interiors – walls, floor, and ceilings – disconnect from its real environment the statue which then looks like a ghost in front of the visitor.

Therefore, lines are important for De Chirico. His concept is that a line can be extended to infinite in drawing and painting. This is can be very destructive, because it conveys art to vacuum and it can potentially bring work to a non-sense. But in sculpture line is ignored. The sculptor is free from the line because he uses materials.

The works on display include a bronze re-working of the mannequin-like figures from De Chirico’s famous painting of 1917 entitled The Disquieting Muses. Indeed, all of the sculptures approximate the stylistic qualities of the pictorial imagery upon which they are based, for example the unrefined The Archaeologists. It reproduces the more fluid modelling and atmospheric brushwork typical of this later phase of the artist’s career that can also be seen in works on paper such as Fight of Horsemen and Infantrymen.

Giorgio De Chirico was born in Volos (Greece) from an Italian family (10th July 1888 – 20th November 1978). He studied paintings

Hector and Andromache, 1942, Giorgio de Chirico ©DACS 2014, Courtesy Galleria d’Arte Maggiore, Bologna (Italy)

Hector and Andromache, 1942, Giorgio de Chirico ©DACS 2014, Courtesy Galleria d’Arte Maggiore, Bologna (Italy)

in Athens Firenze, and Munich, where he was influenced by the Symbolists as well as the philosophy of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, particularly the latter’s belief that “underneath this reality in which we live and have our being, another and altogether different reality lies concealed”.

In 1917, De Chirico met the Futurist Carlo Carrà in Ferrara during the First World War, while serving the army. Carrà tried to acknowledge himself as the inventor of Scuola Metafisica, but it is untrue. In fact, between 1910 and 1915 De Chirico already established the characteristic iconography of Metaphysical painting: mannequins, illogical perspectives, incongruously juxtaposed everyday objects and deserted city squares.

A number of other painters and poets gravitated towards what became identified as the Scuola Metafisica, including Filippo de Pisis, Giorgio Morandi and de Chirico’s younger brother, who adopted the pseudonym Alberto Savinio. Metaphysical painting also anticipated the Surrealism during the 1920s.

Sculpture was a constant source of interest for De Chirico, despite he produced much more paintings. The Italian artist regularly depicted statues in his pictorial work and, in 1927, he wrote a brief essay on the subject of sculpture.

De Chirico began to experiment with sculpture towards the end of the 1930s, creating terracotta versions of the mysterious figures present in his paintings, inspired particularly by his singular re- inventing of characters from classical mythology depicted as tailors’ dummies or automatons. During the 1960s he began to produce bronze casts of such works and, subsequently, devoted himself to the creation of multiples in silver patina and gilded bronze. It is these late pieces upon which the Estorick exhibition focuses in particular. Such was the success of his work in this field that in 1972 he was awarded the Ibico Reggino Prize for Sculpture ex aequo with Henry Moore.

De Chirico artistic importance was recognised immediately and he was awarded many times during his life. Apparently, the metaphysical style was inspired the frequent migraines De Chirico suffered, reporting disturb of the visual aura which is a perceptual disturbance experienced by some patients. The legacy of De Chirico lasts since nowadays.

The sculpture exhibition “Giorgio De Chirico: Myth and Mystery” was at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, Canonbury Square, London N1 2AN, from 15th January to 19th April 2014.

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