Childhood & Early Life
He was born on July 10, 1888, in the town of Volos, Greece, to Evaristo de Chirico, a railway engineer, and his wife, Gemma Cervetto, a Genovese woman. He had a sister who died in childhood and a younger brother, Andrea, born in 1891.
Initially, he studied art at the ‘Higher School of Fine Arts’ in Athens. But after the death of his father in 1905, the family moved to Munich, where he attended the Academy of Fine Arts.
At the Academy, he also took special interest in the philosophical writings of ‘Arthur Schopenhauer’ and ‘Friedrich Nietzsche’. In 1909, he went to Italy, traveling to Milan and Turin, and later settled in Florence.
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In 1910, he painted the first of his 'Metaphysical Town Square' series, ‘The Enigma of an Autumn Afternoon’, and later in the same year he painted ‘The Enigma of the Oracle’.
In 1911, he traveled to Paris, France where he exhibited his work and met a number of influential avant-garde artists and writers, including Pablo Picasso’and Constantin Brancusi.
In 1912, his works were exhibited at the ‘Salon d’Automne’ and the ‘Salon des Indépendants’. He received much appreciation for his ambiguously ominous scenes of deserted piazzas, and also sold his first painting, ‘The Red Tower’.
He produced many of his most important and influential paintings during his Parisian stay of 1911–15. These include: ‘The Soothsayer's Recompense’ (1913), ‘Love Song’ (1914), and ‘The Seer’ (1915).
In 1915, when he returned to Rome during the World War I, he was drafted into the Italian Army. Initially he was enlisted in military, but soon afterwards, he had a nervous breakdown and was assigned to a hospital at Ferrara.
During the same period, he painted some of his other works including ‘The Great Metaphysician’, ‘The Troubadour’ and ‘The Disquieting Muses’. In 1917, he met artist Carlo Carrà; and together the two artists developed the genre which they termed as ‘Metaphysical painting’. When the World War I ended, he moved to Rome.
In February 1919, he held his first solo show in Rome at Casa d’Arte Bragaglia. His work was greatly admired by the newly formed Surrealist school of artists and writers, who were fascinated by dream analysis and the subconscious mind.
However, in the 1920s, he started working in a neo-traditional style inspired by Raphael and Titian, old masters of Renaissance period. Eventually, he turned against the modern art and broke ties with the Surrealists.
He held his first exhibition in New York City in 1928, and shortly afterwards, in the same year, he also held an exhibition in London.
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In 1929, he wrote essays on art and other subjects and also published a novel entitled 'Hebdomeros, the Metaphysician'.
In 1939, he adopted a neo-Baroque style influenced by Rubens. His later works were not able to earn the same critical acclaim as did those from his metaphysical period. His reputation was also damaged when the false backdated copies of his works infiltrated the art market.
In 1944, he settled permanently in Rome. The following year, his autobiography ‘Memorie della mia vita’ was published.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1925, he met and married a Russian ballerina, Raissa Gurievich, and the couple moved to Paris.
In 1930, he met Isabella Pakszwer Far, a Russian, who later became his second wife. In 1932, the couple moved to Italy, finally settling in Rome in 1944.
He died on November 20, 1978, in Rome, Italy, at the age of 90.