Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTOR
Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)

Una camera nel museo

Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)
Una camera nel museo
signed 'G. de. Chirico' (lower right)
oil on canvas
18 3/8 x 21 3/4in. (46.7 x 55.2cm.)
Painted in Paris circa 1926
Paul Guillaume, Paris.
Chester H. Johnson Gallery, Chicago, by 1933.
Anonymous sale, Christie's, New York, 11 May 1995, lot 362.
Private European collection, by whom acquired at the above sale; sale, Christie's, London, 16 October 2006, lot 204.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Chicago, The Art Institute, A Century of Progress, Exhibition of paintings and sculpture lent from American Collections, June - November 1933, no. 771, p. 83 (dated '1929').
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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. These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

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Alessandro Diotallevi
Alessandro Diotallevi

Lot Essay

Painted around 1926, Una camera nel museo is part of a group of works in which Giorgio de Chirico transposed the landscape and classical ruins of the outside world into panelled, claustrophobic rooms. The idea for this new genre of imagery had surged from another series of works of the time in which the artist had placed domestic furniture into deserted, mysterious landscapes. The artist perceived these two highly personal iconographies as complementary: ‘To the atmosphere of furniture stranded in the landscape corresponds that of the temples and nature’s corners inserted into rooms’ (G. de Chirico, quoted in P. Baldacci, G. Roos, De Chirico, Venice, 2007, p. 184). For de Chirico, the pairing of these two incompatible dimensions unveiled new meanings in the objects or places portrayed.

Apparently depicting a room in a museum, Pittura Metafisica is centred on an internal paradox, as it is seemingly the museum itself that has been enclosed by the room. The temple, perched at the edge of a rock, displays the classical architectural language that in the Nineteenth Century was purposefully adopted for the construction of national art galleries, with the aim of symbolising, through its reference to Ancient Greece, ideals of civilisation, lineage and heritage. Reversing this idea, in Una camera nel museo, de Chirico has replaced the Classical statues that usually adorn the rooms of museums, with a landscape, which – for its reference to ancient Greece –roots the cultural space of the museum into a distant, mythological past. Acknowledging de Chirico’s ability to establish links between extraneous realities, Jean Cocteau, in Le Mystère Laïc, celebrated de Chirico as a dépaysagiste, stressing his ability to estrange objects from their expected context, revealing unknown facets of their being.

Evoking the effect of an illusionistic backdrop, works such as Una camera nel museo introduce a theatrical dimension to de Chirico’s work, placing these pictures in the context of the artist’s scenography career. In 1928, de Chirico would be commissioned with the design for the set of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes 1929 production Le Bal. Echoing the artist’s own paintings, the scenography for that ballet introduced fragments of landscape into a room, confirming de Chirico’s deep fascination and dedication to the theme of enclosed outdoors.

Ultimately, however, the imagery of works such as Una camera nel museo was part of de Chirico’s eccentric reinterpretation of Greek classical antiquity, which the artist re-invented as his own, personal mythology, governing the universe of his art. In particular, images of nature enclosed in rooms became a symbol of the emotional proximity of gods and humans so characteristic of Greek mythology. De Chirico explained: ‘The intrusion of Nature upon dwellings, as I’ve tried to suggest it, is reminiscent of the alliance between gods and men that imbues all of Greek art. By participating in human life, the gods became only more divine’ (Giorgio de Chirico, ‘Some Perspectives on my Art’, pp. 248-254, in G. de Chirico, Hebdomeros, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1992, pp. 251).

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