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Giorgio de Chirico
(1888-1978)

- One of the most influential Surrealist artists in history is Giorgio de Chirico. Born in Greece to Italian parents in 1888, de Chirico was the founder of the Metaphysical Art movement.

In 1906, following a stint in Athens and Florence to study art, de Chirico entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Germany. He returned to Milan, Italy in 1909, but soon after returned to Florence, where he began painting his series of Metaphysical Town Squares. The first in the series was The Enigma of an Autumn Afternoon, inspired by the feelings de Chirico had when visiting Piazza Santa Croce. de Chirico was also incredibly moved by Turin during a short stop there on his way to Paris in 1911. He met up with his brother Andrea in Paris, and was introduced through his brother to Pierre Laprade, who helped de Chirico get an exhibit at the Salon d’Automne. It was there that he sold his first painting, and was noticed by both Pablo Picasso and Guillaume Apollinaire. Apollinaire introduced de Chirico to art dealer Paul Guillame, and he signed a contract with Guillame for several works.

de Chirico returned to Italy after the outbreak of the First World War, enlisting in the Italian army. He was deemed unfit for combat and was assigned to work at the hospital in Ferrara. In 1918, he transferred to Rome, and began a period of great popularity with his exhibits. He married Russian ballerina Raissa Gurievich in 1924 in Rome, and the couple moved to Paris. The marriage was short lived, and soon after, de Chirico met and married Isabella Pakszwer Far. The couple moved back to Italy, settling in Rome in 1944.

Late in his life, de Chirico returned to a more classic style of painting, and was negatively reviewed by critics. As a result of the negative criticism, de Chirico, who greatly appreciated his classic, more mature style, began to deny the authenticity of some of his early paintings. He also painted his own “forgeries”, and it was during this time that he began declaring these works as forgeries in actual terms.

De Chirico had a strong influence on many of the surrealist movement’s most prominent artists, including Salvador Dali, Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst and others. He also influenced other artistic endeavors, including those of Italian film director Michelangelo Antonioni.

Giorgio de Chirico died on November 20, 1978 in Rome. He was laid to rest at the Monumental Church of St. Francis at Ripa in Rome.

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