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Chronology

MUNICH. THE PROTO-METAPHYSICS


1888
Giorgio de Chirico was born on 10 July in Vólos, capital of Thessaly (Greece). His brother Andréa, known as Alberto Savinio (1891-1952), a painter and writer, was born three years later in Athens.

1905
Death of Giorgio de Chirico’s father, a railway engineer. The image of this paternal figure appears regularly in the painter’s work, from certain male characters to the trains that appear in his compositions.

1906-1909
Moves to Munich with his brother and his mother after travelling around Italy. De Chirico enrols at the Academy of Fine Arts. He produces his first works influenced by Arnold Böcklin (1827-1901) and Max Klinger (1857-1920). Reads works by philosophers Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), Otto Weininger (1880-1903) and Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900).

1909-1911
Stays in Milan, Rome and Florence. It is in Rome that he has his first "revelations" that he expresses in 1909 in his first two metaphysical paintings, The Enigma of the Oracle and The Enigma of an Autumn Afternoon.

1911
Giorgio de Chirico walks around the city of Turin for several days in July, retracing Nietzsche’s last visit to the town when he was in the throes of an attack of insanity, an episode that is still famous. De Chirico then goes to Paris where he rejoins his mother and brother.

 

PARIS. METAPHYSICS


1912
De Chirico exhibits three works at the Autumn Salon: his first two metaphysical paintings from 1909 and the Self Portrait of 1911. There, he meets Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920), who is exhibiting seven stone caryatids.

1913. May-June
In the spring he meets Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918), who encourages him to exhibit thirty works in October in his studio in rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs. The poet becomes his main support. He introduces de Chirico to the avant-garde circles and to Paul Guillaume (1891-1934) who becomes his art dealer.

1913. November-December
New creative cycle, which he later names "solitude of signs" following his reflections on Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) and on the later writings of Nietzsche. He introduces inanimate objects into his paintings, devoid of any logical link between them.

1914. 30 January
Guillaume Apollinaire dines with the de Chirico family in rue de Chaillot, where he meets the painter’s mother and younger brother, Gemma and Alberto. Alberto soon begins working with Apollinaire on the Soirées de Paris, founded by the poet, under the pseudonym of Alberto Savinio.

1914. Paris, 1 April

The Paul Guillaume Gallery presents a collective exhibition of paintings and “black sculptures” including the works of de Chirico.

1914. April-May                                                                                                                         His friendship with Apollinaire and their shared interest in ancient Orphic and mystical doctrines change the direction of his painting. The figure of the mannequin appears, the artist’s emblematic alter ego, whose vision goes beyond time and to the very core of things.

1914. Florence, 1 July
The Lacerba journal publishes Italiani all’estero. De Chirico e Savinio, an article by the Italian poet and painter Ardengo Soffici (1879-1964), which marks a turning point in Giorgio de Chirico’s critical success by suggesting that his works be regarded in the perspective of Italian nationalism.

1915. Paris, 22 May
During World War I, the Italian government having ordered a general mobilisation, the de Chirico brothers contact the consulate in Paris in order to enlist and return to Italy. Convinced that the conflict will soon be over, they retain their apartment in rue de Chaillot and the studio in rue Campagne-Première, where Giorgio leaves all the works that do not belong to Paul Guillaume.

 

FERRARE. THE MADNESS OF THE WORLD


1915
Answering the call-up, Giorgio de Chirico and Alberto Savinio arrive in Florence on 31 May, travelling from Paris via Turin, then going on to Ferrara (Emilia-Romagna). Declared unfit by doctors for the war effort, in the autumn they take up their artistic work once again, and stay in contact with the cultural circles in Paris, in particular with Paul Guillaume and Guillaume Apollinaire. Picasso paints Man with Bowler Hat seated in an Armchair as a tribute to de Chirico.

1916. May
André Breton (1896-1966) discovers the painting of Giorgio de Chirico at the home of Guillaume Apollinaire.

1917. April-August
De Chirico is admitted to the Villa del Seminario, a military hospital for nervous disorders on the outskirts of Ferrara. Here he meets the painter Carlo Carrà (1881-1961). No longer exposed to the fighting, they obtain permission to work freely in the workshops for mental rehabilitation, electrotherapy and prostheses… Here they create the principal masterpieces of Ferrara metaphysical painting.

1918
The painter Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) begins to experiment with the metaphysical idiom after studying reproductions of works by Carrà and de Chirico. The first issue of the review Valori plastici, edited in Rome, in November, by the painter and writer Mario Broglio (1891-1948), publishes articles by de Chirico, Savinio and Carrà.
On 9 November, Apollinaire dies of Spanish flu. Shortly after the Armistice of 11 November, de Chirico leaves Ferrara for Milan then Rome.

1919-1920
The poet and writer André Breton tells how he discovered, in the window of Paul Guillaume’s gallery, the painting The Revenant (1914), renamed by the poet Louis Aragon (1897-1982), The Child’s Brain.