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Giorgio de Chirico

/Works and biography

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The Nostalgia of the Poet (La Nostalgie du počte), 1914
Oil and charcoal on canvas, 89.7 x 40.7 cm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice 76.2553 PG 65
© Giorgio de Chirico, by SIAE 2008


This work belongs to a series of paintings of 1914 on the subject of the poet. Recurrent motifs in the sequence are the plaster bust with dark glasses, the mannequin, and the fish mold on an obelisk. These objects, bearing no evident relationships to one another, are compressed here into a narrow vertical format that creates a claustrophobic and enigmatic space. The use of inanimate forms imitating or alluding to human beings has complex ramifications. The sculpture at the lower left is a painted representation of a plaster cast from a stone, marble, or metal bust by an imaginary, or at present unidentified, sculptor. The fish is a charcoal drawing of a metal mold that could produce a baked “cast” of a fish made with an actual fish, with additional connotations as a religious symbol. The mannequin is a simplified cloth cast of a human figure. Each object, though treated as solid and static, dissolves in multiple significations and paradoxes. Such amalgams of elusive meaning in Giorgio de Chirico’s strangely intense objects compelled the attention of the Surrealists.

credits: Hangar Design Group