Giorgio de Chirico was born in Vólos, Greece, on 10 July 1888. In 1900 he began studying painting at the Athens Polytechnic Institute, where he also attended evening classes in life drawing. Around 1906, he moved to Munich, where he joined the Akademie der Bildenden Künste. Whilst there, he became interested in the art of Arnold Böcklin and Max Klinger and the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer and Otto Weininger. De Chirico moved to Milan in 1909, to Florence in 1910, and to Paris in 1911. In Paris he was included in the Salon d'Automne (1912, 1913) and in the Salon des Indépendants (1913, 1914). As a frequent visitor to Guillaume Apollinaire's weekly gatherings, he met Constantin Brancusi, André Derain, Max Jacob, and Paul Guillaume, amongst others. De Chirico signed a contract with Guillaume, who became his dealer, in 1914. Because of the war, in 1915 de Chirico returned to Italy, where he met Filippo de Pisis in 1916 and Carlo Carrà in 1917; they formed the group that was later called the Scuola Metafisica. The paintings de Chirico produced between 1909 and 1919, regarded as his metaphyscial period, were characterised by haunted, eerie atmospheres evoked by deserted classical cityscapes or cluttered rooms populated by disparate objects and mannequin-like figures.
In 1918, the artist moved to Rome and was given his first solo exhibition at the Casa d'Arte Bragaglia in the winter of 1918-19. In this period he was one of the leaders of the Gruppo Valori Plastici, publishing an article titled “The Return of Craftsmanship” in November 1919, which advocated a return to traditional methods and iconography. From 1920 to 1924 he divided his time between Rome and Florence. A solo exhibition of de Chirico's work was held at the Galleria Arte in Milan in 1921, and he participated in the Venice Biennale for the first time in 1924. Later that year, de Chirico returned to Paris where Breton invited him to join the Surrealists – a short-lived association that ended acrimoniously in 1926. Meanwhile in Paris, de Chirico exhibited at Léonce Rosenberg's Galerie l'Effort Moderne (1925), the Galerie Paul Guillaume (1926, 1927) and the Galerie Jeanne Bucher (1927). In 1928 he was given solo shows at the Arthur Tooth Gallery in London and the Valentine Gallery in New York. In 1929 de Chirico designed scenery and costumes for Sergei Diaghilev's production of the ballet Le Bal, and his book Hebdomeros was published. The artist continued to design for the ballet and opera in subsequent years.
In 1932, de Chirico returned to Italy, before moving to America in 1936, though he would return to Rome in 1944 where he would settle for the rest of his life. From 1939, de Chirico adopted a neo-Baroque style influenced by Peter Paul Rubens, though these – along with his work from the 1920s onwards inspired by the Italian Old Masters – never received the same critical acclaim as his earlier metaphysical period. The artist continued to exhibit in Europe, the United States, Canada, and Japan throughout his life before his death on 20 November 1978, in Rome, where he had lived for over thirty years.
On the 20th anniversary of de Chirico’s death, the Fondazione Giorgio e Isa de Chirico and the Chirico House-Museum was inaugurated in Rome. The Foundation’s Collection holds more than 600 works by the artist. De Chirico’s work also features in the following selected international collections: the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA); Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna (GNAM), Rome; Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (GAM), Turin; Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, London; the Tate Collection, London.
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