In 1969 a young artist in Turin named Giulio Paolini took as his personal motto the Latin inscription—itself a quotation from Nietzsche—at the foot of an early Giorgio de Chirico self-portrait: Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est [And What Shall I Love If Not the Enigma].
Center for Italian Modern Art (CIMA) Fellow Giovanni Casini moderated the conversation, held at CIMA on March 21, 2017.
Giorgio de Chirico is one of the most renowned and celebrated Italian artists of the modern period, but his work remains controversial today. His provocative practice of copying and backdating his later works to his Metaphysical period (1910 – 19) complicates the way his work and oeuvre are viewed by scholars, dealers, and the public at large.
For Giulio Paolini, Giorgio de Chirico’s multifarious oeuvre has been not only a source of inspiration, but also a cornerstone of his way of considering art-making and the role of the author.
In the spring of 1982, in the thick of the return to non-Conceptual painting and three-and-a-half years after Giorgio de Chirico had died, William Rubin organized a major exhibition of his paintings and drawings at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Mother, mother, what illbred aunt / Or what disfigured and unsightly / Cousin did you so unwisely keep / Unasked to my christening, that she / Sent these ladies in her stead / With heads like darning-eggs to nod / And nod and nod at foot and head / And at the left side of my crib?
Every time I look at this painting, I live this moment again.
Michael Dumanis is the author of the poetry collection My Soviet Union, winner of the Juniper Prize for Poetry. He teaches at Bennington College.
Mary Jo Bang is the author of seven collections of poems. She teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.
Boredom sets in first, and then despair. / One tries to brush it off. It only grows. / Something about the silence of the square.
In the proverbial shadow of Giorgio de Chirico’s prominent painting, Metaphysical Interior (with Large Building) (1916) lurks a counterpart of smaller dimensions and more humble repute: the Metaphysical Interior (with Small Factory).