Giorgio de Chirico: the man who came from elsewhere

In Paris, the Orangerie has succeeded in bringing together, despite the crisis, the painter’s metaphysical masterpieces. This unexpected bouquet underlines the singularity of this Italian artist born in Greece, forged by German romanticism, rubbed against Parisian modernism and, in the end, true to himself.

L'Incertitude du poète (detail), November-December 1913, is one of the treasures of the Tate in London.
The Uncertainty of the Poet (detail), November-December 1913, is one of the treasures of the Tate in London. Photo © Tate, Dist. RMN -Grand Palais / Tate Photography © ADAGP, Paris, 2020

Paris has an appointment with an enigma. Where to classify Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978), this artist whose paradoxes were revealed by the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2009, from the worst to the best, from the most elliptical brio to the most uninhibited pastiche? It was a tide of 170 paintings, sculptures, graphic works and a selection of archives, long rebus that formed a fascinating portrait in its Art Deco loop. The Musée de l’Orangerie takes the opposite point of view and focuses on its period “metaphysical” – epithet given by the friend Guillaume Apollinaire, born in Rome on the Polish subject of the Russian Empire, who became a poet in Paris -, that is his most museum and most quoted period. But the zoom effect does not dispel the mystery of this singular spirit more than the avalanche of paintings, copies, “replays” and chapters where the secret of the man who denied the avant-garde was hidden.

At each exhibition, Chirico, like a phoenix, emerges from his shadow intact, like an apparition,

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