Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE ITALIAN COLLECTION
Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)

Piazza d'Italia

Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)
Piazza d'Italia
signed 'g. de Chirico' (lower left)
oil on canvas
23¾ x 31¾ in. (60.4 x 80.6 cm.)
Painted circa 1956
Galleria Lo Scalino, Rome.
Arturo Lazzarini, by 1957.
Galleria La Barcaccia, Rome.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Anne Elisabeth Spittler
Anne Elisabeth Spittler

Lot Essay

The Fondazione de Chirico has confirmed the authenticity of this work, which is recorded in their archives under the number 003/02/13 OT.

Piazza d'Italia presents one of the most persistent and significant themes of Giorgio de Chirico's oeuvre. First explored in the early 1910s, this scenario made of empty buildings, melancholic shadows and mysterious trains puffing in the distance constituted the enduring ground on which metaphysical yearnings, biographical memories and philosophical ideas enacted de Chirico's artistic drama. Surrounded by the classical geometry of the buildings, a female statue is abandoned in anguish. Two men sinisterly shake hands in this barren landscape, while the silhouette of a train slides silently along the horizon line. Shadows grow, while the sky glows with fluorescence lights.

Piazza d'Italia belongs to a solid group of works in which de Chirico explored the Metaphysical potential of empty squares through a series of subtle variations. This practise of subsequent revisions of a given theme, Paolo Baldacci has argued, visually manifests de Chirico's conception of history and art as cyclical temporal entities, expressing a philosophical vision of the world endowed to Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy (P. Baldacci, 'De Chirico, le date, il tempo, la storia', p. 5-14, in P. Daverio, ed., Giorgio De Chirico: I temi della metafisica, Milano, 1985). The subject of the piazza d'Italia recurs in de Chirico's oeuvre just as time repeats itself in the Nietzschean 'eternal return', and in fact allows the artist to reinforce that return. Moreover, this practice of series and variations, from which Piazza d'Italia was born in 1956, resonates significantly with that of his fellow from the days of Pittura Metafisica, Giorgio Morandi, and even Andy Warhol. Indeed, Warhol himself would base a series on de Chirico's works.

De Chirico's long-lasting interest in the series of Piazza d'Italia was also nourished by the biographical and philosophical references from which the imagery itself was condensed. Scholars have often identified the grand architecture of these works with the piazze of Turin, a city which profoundly marked de Chirico as early as 1911 when he spent there a few days on his way to Paris. De Chirico often praised that 'mysterious affair' of the beauty of that city, which was in his eyes 'the most enigmatic, the most disquieting city not only of Italy, but of the entire world' (G. d Chirico, 'La piazza', pp. 17-19, in M. Fagiolo dell'Arco, ed., Giorgio de Chirico: i temi della metafisica, Milano, 1985, p. 17).

Turin was also the city where Friedrich Nietzsche - whose philosophical writings de Chirico had been perusing since an early age - spent his last days and Piazza d'Italia symbolically seems to pay homage to his subversive and daring philosophical ideas. At the centre of the composition, de Chirico placed the statue of Sleeping Ariadne, an important figure in Nietzsche's philosophy, where she comes to represent the human soul which over reason (Theseus) chooses intuition (Dionysus), embracing the chaos and unbalance of the universe, instead of order and logic scene (P. Baldacci, De Chirico 1888-1919: La Metafisica, Milan, 1997, p. 135-139). As Paolo Baldacci observed, de Chirico symbolically embedded this idea in Piazza d'Italia: although giving the impression of a rigorous one-point perspective, the picture is constructed on a web of irregular perspective lines, crossing and clashing across the surface and creating that sense of disorientation which pervasively hovers over the scene (Ibid., p.139). Celebrating some of de Chirico's most influential imagery, Piazza d'Italia expresses that intricate, mysterious encounter between painting, philosophy and symbols from which Pittura Metafisica was initially born.

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