Giorgio de Chirico

The Red Tower


Giorgio de Chirico’s enigmatic works of 1911–17 provided a crucial inspiration for the Surrealist painters. The dreamlike atmosphere of his compositions results from irrational perspective, the lack of a unified light source, the elongation of shadows, and a hallucinatory focus on objects. Italian piazzas bounded by arcades or classical façades are transformed into ominously silent and vacant settings for invisible dramas. The absence of event provokes a nostalgic or melancholy mood as if one senses the wake of a momentous incident; if one feels the imminence of an act, a feeling of anxiety ensues. De Chirico remarked that “every object has two appearances: one, the current one, which we nearly always see and which is seen by people in general; the other, a spectral or metaphysical appearance beheld only by some individuals in moments of clairvoyance and metaphysical abstraction, as in the case of certain bodies concealed by substances impenetrable by sunlight yet discernible, for instance, by x-ray or other powerful artificial means” (“Sull’arte metafisica,” April–May 1919). Traces of concealed human presences appear in the fraught expanse of this work. One is the partly concealed equestrian monument often identified as the statue of King Carlo Alberto in Turin.

On view

Artist Giorgio de Chirico
Original Title La Tour rouge
Date 1913
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 73.5 x 100.5 cm
Credit line Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York)
Accession 76.2553 PG 64
Collection Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Type Painting

Copy caption

On view

Other artworks

Stanley William Hayter



On view