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Giorgio de Chirico: An Artist of Enigmas

Giorgio de Chirico - The Enigma of an Autumn Afternoon - 1910 - Oil on canvas - 45 x 60 cm - Peggy Guggenheim Collection - Venice (click photo for larger image)Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978) was a pioneer in the widespread revival of Classicism that took place in Europe, during the 1920s. His classically inspired pictures of empty town squares are the art for which he is best known. It was the work styled in this fashion that led him to form the short-lived Metaphysical Art movement, along with the painter Carlo Carrà.

In The Enigma of an Autumn Afternoon, long, sinister, and illogical shadows cast by unseen objects onto empty city spaces contrast starkly with the bright, clear light that is rendered in brooding green tonalities.” This was the first painting in what is known as the Metaphysical Town Square series.

De Chirico’s metaphysical works attracted considerable notice, particularly in France, where the Surrealists championed him as a precursor. But the artist was more conservative than the Paris avant-garde. He later referred to his former supporters as "the leaders of modernistic imbecility.”

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