I’ve spent the past few days scouring my art books in search one specific artist. I recalled seeing his fantastic landscapes that seemed so desolate, jet full of energy. In this world, Greco/Roman-styled buildings stood solitary with shadows that stretched all the way across the painting. I wanted these to be the inspiration for the world of the Tarot. After quite a bit of time, I finally found what I was searching for: the art of Giorgio de Chirico.
Technically, de Chirico wasn’t a surrealist. He worked with some of the artists at that time, but he art was more symbolic and used dream imagery. This is what drew me to him.
Giorgio de Chirico was born in Volos, a town in Greece on July 10, 1888. When his father died in 1905, the family moved to Munich. At the age of seventeen, de Chirico studied at the Academy of Fine Arts where he was introduced to the ideas of Nietzche. De Chirico also found inspiration in the European Symbolist artists like Franz Stuck and Carlos Schwabe. De Chirico loved their use of dream-like imagery. His earliest paintings used Symbolist ideas with his love of Greece and Italian antiquities. His paintings also represented his musings on the true nature of reality.
After settling in Florence, de Chirico traveled to Paris in 1911. There he met a number of avant-garde artists and writers, including Pablo Picasso and Constantin Brancusi. He also exhibited his work to the public. It was during this time (1911-15) that De Chirico created many of his most influential paintings such as “The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street” (1914). His paintings showed scenes with classical architecture where only a single lone figure or monument was present. Often long shadows hinted at other elements or figures just out of view. This creates an unsettling mood.
The Great War (World War I) forced de Chirico and his brother into the Italian Army in 1915. De Chirico was stationed in Ferrara, but soon had a nervous breakdown and recouped in a military hospital. In 1917, he met artist Carlo Carrà, who helped him create his style of “metaphysical painting” that emphasized the hidden significance of ordinary places and objects.