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Creator Name: Chirico, Giorgio de
Creator Nationality: European; Southern European; Italian
Creator Role: Artist
Creator Dates/Places: Italian, born Greece,1888-1978
Creator Name-CRT: Giorgio de Chirico
Title: Ariadne
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1913
Creation End Date: 1913
Creation Date: 1913
Object Type: Paintings
Materials and Techniques: Oil and graphite on canvas
Dimensions: H. 53-3/8, W. 71 in. (135.6 x 180 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1996.403.10
Credit Line: Bequest of Florene M. Schoenborn, 1995
Copyright: ? Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome

Born in Greece to Italian parents, Giorgio de Chirico received his first drawing lessons at the Polytechnic Institute in Athens in 1900. In 1906, the family moved to Munich, where he attended the Academy of Fine Arts, becoming acquainted with the magic realism of Swiss-German painter Arnold Böcklin and the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, who encouraged the artist to 'refute reality.' At various important junctures in his career de Chirico lived in Paris (1911-15, 1925-32), as well as the United States (1936-38), but he spent most of his life in Italy. In Ferrara in 1917 he met the artist Carlo Carrà, with whom he articulated a 'metaphysical' style of painting in which an illogical reality seemed credible. Although the Metaphysical School was short-lived, its ramifications were felt in subsequent art movements, such as Dada and Surrealism.

This composition presents one of the artist's famous deserted public squares rendered in simple broad forms. Somber monolithic arches on the right cast a heavy geometric shadow filling two?thirds of the right foreground. On the left, seen slightly from above and in a vertical perspective, is the statue of the sleeping Ariadne. The background is sealed by a brick wall, beyond which rises a squat white tower. A distant train approaches from the left, a sailing ship from the right. The palette consists of ocher, deep brown, white, and green.

'Ariadne' is part of a series of five paintings, all of 1913, in which the statue of Ariadne plays a major iconographic role. This statue is a Roman copy of a lost Hellenistic sculpture of Ariadne asleep on the island of Naxos, where she had been abandoned by Theseus. The sculpture of Ariadne had great symbolic meaning for de Chirico, perhaps evoking the classical past to which he had been exposed during his childhood in Greece. In these works Ariadne is seen from various angles, horizontally, vertically, and in partial close-up. The most important paintings in the series are 'Ariadne,' 'The Soothsayers Recompence' (1913; Philadelphia Museum of Art), and 'The Silent Statue' (1913; formerly Jean Paulhan, Paris).

'Ariadne' is executed in the dry, thin manner that characterizes de Chirico's works of 1913-14. The artist created this composition, which belongs to his most elegiac early period, while living in Paris (1911-15). The 'early' de Chirico, still a painter of simple and magical dreamlike pictures, as exemplified by 'Ariadne,' became one of the acknowledged predecessors of the Surrealists.

AMICA ID: MMA_.1996.403.10
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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