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Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)
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Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)

Torino metafisica

Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)
Torino metafisica
signed 'G. de Chirico' (lower right); titled 'Torino Metafisica' (centre right); inscribed and signed 'quadro metafisico autentico da me dipinto e firmato, in fede, Giorgio de Chirico' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
19¾ x 15¾ in. (50 x 40 cm.)
Painted in 1951
Galleria la Casa dell'Arte, Sasso Marconi (no. 4242).
Salomon & C. Collection, Turin.
Anonymous sale, Finarte, Rome, 18 November 1997, lot 294.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
C. Bruni Sakraischik, Catalogo Generale Giorgio de Chirico, Opere dal 1951 al 1974, vol. VIII, Milan, no. 1158 (illustrated, unpaged).
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Lot Essay

Painted in 1951, Torino metafisica marks de Chirico's reprisal of some of his earlier and most celebrated themes. A mannequin sits in a square in Turin, yet this is the timeless Turin of the Metafisica paintings of the 1910s. There is no movement, yet there is an air of infinite mystery. No human presence is directly shown, yet two shadows imply that, hidden away behind the easel, there may be two figures but are they people or statues or other inanimate objects? The fact that de Chirico refuses to provide any answer to this conundrum adds to the intense Stimmung of the painting, its almost suffocating. Discussing Nietzsche and Stimmung, de Chirico wrote:

'This novelty is a strange and profound poetry, infinitely mysterious and solitary, which is based on the Stimmung (I use this very effective German word which could be translated as atmosphere in the moral sense), the Stimmung, I repeat, of an autumn afternoon, when the sky is clear and the shadows are longer than in summer, for the sun is beginning to lower. This extraordinary sensation can be found (but it is necessary, naturally, to have the good fortune to possess my exceptional mental faculties) in Italian cities and in Mediterranean cities like Genoa or Nice; but the Italian city par excellence where this extraordinary phenomenon appears is Turin' (G. de Chirico, The Memoirs of Giorgio de Chirico, trans. M. Crosland, London, 1971, p.55).

In the Stimmung-drenched Torino metafisica, two easels point to the mannequin's role as an artist, implying that it is a strange reimagination of the artist himself. One easel is empty, while on the other is a blackboard that itself shows the outlines of the view, with the words 'Torino metafisica' scrawled above them. In this way, the viewer is drawn further into the painting, further into the strange paradoxical nature of the eternal present and the present past: there is the implication that this blackboard is not only a picture within a picture, but is in fact the genesis of the painting itself.

During the Post-War years, de Chirico revisited many of his classic earlier themes as part of a deliberate programme that essentially provided a retrospective justification for his works. By doing this, his beliefs in the cyclical nature of time and in the ability of the past to penetrate the present were proved by his own paintings. These later works are the fulfilment of de Chirico's own prophecy. By this time, de Chirico was famous enough that his older works were recognised in many parts of the world. Taking their look and themes and recreating them in these later years, de Chirico managed not only to create new works that tapped into the classicism that he had discovered and invented, but also reinforced the classical status of the early Metafisica scenes of Turin.

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