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

Sgombero su piazza d’Italia

Giorgio de Chirico (ITALY, 1888-1978)
Sgombero su piazza d’Italia
signed and dated 'G. de Chirico 1958' (lower left)
oil on canvas
60 × 90 cm. (23 5/8 × 35 3/8 in.)
Painted in 1968
Anonymous sale, Farsettiarte, Prato, 26 May 2007, lot 721.
Acquired by the present owner in 2008.
Fondazione Giorgio e Isa de Chirico, Giorgio de Chirico, Catalogo generale, vol. 3, Opere dal 1913 al 1976, Rome, 2016, no. 1324, p. 367 & 469 (illustrated p. 367).
Reggio Calabria, Museo Nazionale, Omaggio a de Chirico, December 1972 - January 1973, no. 13 (illustrated).
Kamakura, Museum of Modern Art, De Chirico presenta de Chirico, November – December 1973, no. 32; this exhibition later travelled to Tokyo, Central Art Museum, January 1974; Kyoto, National Museum of Modern Art, February – March 1974; and Nagoya, Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, March – April 1974.
São Paulo, Museu Brasileiro da Escultura Marilisa Rathsam, Giorgio de Chirico, Pinturas e esculturas, March - April 1998, no. 75, p. 132.
Special notice
This Lot has been sourced from overseas. When auctioned, such property will remain under “bond” with the applicable import customs duties and taxes being deferred unless and until the property is brought into free circulation in the PRC. Prospective buyers are reminded that after paying for such lots in full and cleared funds, if they wish to import the lots into the PRC, they will be responsible for and will have to pay the applicable import customs duties and taxes. The rates of import customs duty and tax are based on the value of the goods and the relevant customs regulations and classifications in force at the time of import.
Further details
The Fondazione de Chirico has confirmed the authenticity of this work. It is recorded in the archives under the number 0065/07/01.

Lot Essay

Giorgio de Chirico was an Italian artist who still occupies a prominent and unsurpassable position in the history of western modern art. In creating the movement, Scuola Metafisica, De Chirico had a profound influence on the Surrealist movement, embodied by artists such as Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst and René Magritte, and is regarded by many as the artist who prefigured Surrealism. De Chirico remained fascinated by traditional painting techniques throughout his career and worked in the style of old masters such as Titian,
Peter Paul Rubens and Eugene Delacroix, while at the same time creating an utterly unique visual language that became one of the most recognisable expressions of Modernism.

The present work, Sgombero su piazza d’Italia belongs to the artist’s most iconic series of metaphysical works—Piazza d’Italia, a series which originated in the 1910s and re-emerged time and again throughout his extensive career. The most frequently depicted theme of de Chirico’s oeuvre, the piazza d’Italia series embodies the artist’s complex aesthetic and lifelong pursuit of philosophical discovery, with examples held in a number of prominent museums such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Musée d’art moderne, Paris.

In Sgomberosu piazza d’Italia, de Chirico depicts a monumental yet mysterious scene. In the present composition, the figure is instead depicted with his back to the viewer, as if conducting the scene or observing it as a participant, lending an enigmatic air to his identity and expression. His pose is both active in movement, animated by props in both hands, yet literally set in stone and immobile which provides an uncanniness to his presence. The carriage on the right, with its door ajar, reveals a peculiarly shaped sack. The same carriage appears in MoMA’s The Enigma of Day with the doors closed. This repetition of motifs in differing configurations adds an interesting dimension when viewing de Chirico’s work throughout his career as he returns back to each scene, as if they represent new moments from a recurring dream, new information in an investigation or different stills from the same film, emanating suspense
through their dramatic staging.

An inky green sky overhangs the square and transitions into a swathe of ochre, suggesting dawn and dusk, day and night at the same time. This is enhanced by the elongated shadows which delineate an orderly and structured composition, suggesting the monumental architecture of a thriving civilisation but which remain curiously quiet and uninhabited. The sole hint of movement is the train in the background, however, the ball of smoke above the train’s chimney appears to be static, hovering in the air. The entire scene is uspended in time and space, where movement and habitation are suggested yet not fulfilled. These strange juxtapositions of the objects, confusing perspectives and light effects establish a world that exists only in dream and poetry, beyond physical reality.

In the series of piazza d’Italia paintings, the artist also suspends or subverts time by deliberately dating certain works incorrectly, as inscribed by the artist himself. The present painting, for example, appears to have been antedated by a decade. This practice can be interpreted as a radical critique of time and the artist’s return to the past and is recurrent in De Chirico's oeuvre (M. R. Taylor, Giorgio de Chirico and the Myth of Ariadne, London, 2002, pp. 134-135).

De Chirico’s self-expression through repetition and variation is not unlike that of contemporary artists such as Andy Warhol, as observed by Michael R. Taylor (ibid ., pp. 164- 169). Warhol was fascinated by de Chirico’s practices and appropriated them into his own works. Italian Square with Ariadne, for example, is a multi-image recast of de Chirico’s imagery of piazza d’Italia that belongs to a series of works in homage to de Chirico. These works later had an enormous impact on postmodern ideas of appropriation and simulacra. Fascinatingly, upon very close inspection of the present composition, one may see pentimenti, the hint of another work underneath. It appears that the central statue in the finished work, featuring a man upright facing into the composition, was once the Ariadne figure lying down and was subsequently painted over. This revision process is common in De Chirico’s work, showing his propensity to elaborate and edit whilst painting, providing another subtle dimension when one looks closer, that reveals his dynamic thought processes.

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