Who were Arthur Schopenhauer's favorite paintings?

On April 30th, 2009 I flew to Paris with Pablo. Paris is a fantastic city that I love to visit again and again.

This time I had a special goal: to visit the exhibition of one of my favorite artists: Giorgio De Chirico.
The exhibition "La fabrique des rêves" (The Factory of Dreams) in the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris includes 170 works from 1909 to 1975.

Giorgio De Chirico was born in Volos, Greece on July 10, 1888. He died on November 19, 1978 in Rome. He is considered to be the main representative of Pittura metafisica, the so-called metaphysical painting, which is regarded as one of the most important forerunners of Surrealism.

De Chirico's parents were Emma Cervetto and Evaristo De Chirico. Both were from Italy, but the father was employed as an engineer in Greece in the construction of railways.
After completing an academic training as an engineer, Giorgio de Chirico studied painting first at the Polytechnic in Athens and, after the death of his father, from 1906 to 1909 at the Royal Academy of Arts in Munich.


Musee d'art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

In the Munich collections he was particularly impressed by the romantic-mystical paintings by the symbolist Swiss painter Arnold Böcklin, who was to be regarded by surrealists like Salvador Dalí and Max Ernst as one of their forerunners. He was also influenced by the dream images of the German painter, sculptor and graphic artist Max Klinger. Like almost all artists of the epoch, he read Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche, who gave him the template for his work with his descriptions of ghostly empty places in Turin, lined with arcades and statues. De Chirico's dream-like cityscapes consist of towers, arcades and ideal architecture devoid of people, sometimes in central, sometimes in multi-perspective spatial constructions. The only individually used figural shadows and "manichini" (jointed puppets) form counterparts to the strictly architectural design of this world of scenery. De Chirico later thematized the dreamlike, unconscious element in his compositions by placing details such as clocks, trains (in which the memory of his father is reflected) and alienated limbs in a surreal relationship to one another.

In 1911 de Chirico settled in Paris. He met important artists of his time in the French art metropolis, such as Pablo Picasso, André Derain, Constantin Brâncuşi and the poet and critic Guillaume Apollinaire.

In 1915 he left Paris and moved to Ferrara, Italy. There he concentrated on the three motifs cities, "Manichini" (jointed dolls) and interiors. From around 1915 to 1925 de Chirico mainly painted still lifes. The faceless drawing dolls and antique statue motifs are typical here.

In 1916/17 de Chirico founded the "scuola metafisica" with his brother Alberto Savinio and the Italian futurist Carlo Carrà and with it a movement that anticipated the style of the surrealists by around ten years and lasted until 1920.


Giorgio De Chirico (1888-1978)

In 1919 there was a change in style in his painting style. De Chirico began to paint more realistically and aligned himself with the academic style. This is how the work entitled “Two Nudes” was created in 1926. In 1924 de Chirico moved back to Paris and was enthusiastically received by the Surrealists, whose paintings owed his much to his.

The year 1930 marked a turning point in his work: instead of continuing to orientate himself towards newer artistic trends, de Chirico turned completely away from the Pittura metafisica. Still, his metaphysical images remained influential to the surrealists. He turned to a markedly baroque and pathetic style of painting, criticized modern painting sharply and from then on painted in a classical, academic style. Since he did not earn enough with these pictures, he also copied and sold works from his metaphysical era, which is why dating "real" Chiricos is often not easy. From 1939 until his death, de Chirico lived again in Italy.

Giorgio de Chirico
The troubling muses, 1917

I am excited about the exhibition. I was able to put myself in the painter's life and understand his story through his pictures. I found the turning away from the Pittura Metafisica to suddenly turn to traditional painting particularly exciting. Since this gave him no economic success, he copied his earlier works with a certain degree of simplification. I realized why the same picture can be exhibited in Italy and in Munich at the same time. De Chirico remains one of the most important painters of the 20th century and a source of inspiration for many, including myself.