I’m grateful to have seen this at the MoMA earlier this week. De Chirico’s work gets at something in me. I first saw his work at the MoMA back in May, but only three of his paintings were on display, and “The Nostalgia of the Infinite” was not one of them. I could see it, though, on the screen of the audio guide. It was in the MoMA collection, just not on display at the time. Ugh! But during this visit, graciously provided by a friend of a friend, I found several of de Chirico’s paintings in a small gallery room, and the tower I had wanted to see back in May was present.
Since May, I had read a bit about de Chirico and was surprised to learn this particular style of de Chirico’s — called metaphysical art — was short-lived, about three years. He founded the movement, Scuola Metafisica, in 1917 with Carlo Carra. They later had a falling-out.
In 1919, de Chirico described metaphysical art in this statement:
“Everything has two aspects; the current aspect, which we see nearly always and which ordinary men see, and the ghostly and metaphysical aspect, which only rare individuals may see in moments of clairvoyance and metaphysical abstraction. A work of art must narrate something that does not appear within its outline. The objects and figures represented in it must likewise poetically tell you of something that is far away from them, and also of what their shapes materially hide from us.”
(I found the quotation in this great old Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms, published for the first time in the U.S., as a 3rd edition, in 1964 by the New York Graphic Society.)