Quantcast

Back to browse highlights

Ariadne

Giorgio de Chirico (Italian (born Greece), Vólos 1888–1978 Rome )

Date:
1913
Medium:
Oil and graphite on canvas
Dimensions:
53 3/8 x 71 in. (135.6 x 180.3 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Bequest of Florene M. Schoenborn, 1995
Accession Number:
1996.403.10
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Description

    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 two­thirds 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 eight paintings, all of 1912–13, 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. De Chirico made his own small plaster sculpture of Ariadne (private collection) while working on the series. In these paintings Ariadne is seen from various angles, horizontally, vertically, and in partial close-up. The paintings in the series, in order of execution, are "Melanconia" (Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, London), "The Melancholy of a Beautiful Day" (Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels), "The Lassitude of the Infinite" (private collection), "The Joys and Enigmas of a Strange Hour" (private collection), "The Soothsayer's Recompense" (Philadelphia Museum of Art), "Ariadne" (MMA), "Ariadne's Afternoon" (private collection), and "The Silent Statue" (Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf).


    "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.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): Georgio de Chirico/ M.CM.XIII.

  • Provenance

    the artist, Paris (1913–21; on consignment in 1919 to Paulhan; acquired at the end of 1921 by Paulhan); Jean Paulhan, Paris (1921–55; sold, possibly through Pierre Matisse, to Marx); Samuel and Florene Marx, Chicago (1955–his d. 1964); Florene May Marx, later Mrs. Wolfgang Schoenborn, New York (1964–d. 1995; her bequest to MMA)

  • Exhibition History

    Paris. 115 rue Notre Dame des Champs. "Exposition d'œuvres de Giorgio de Chirico dans son atelier," October 6–30, 1913, no catalogue.

    New York. Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Giorgio de Chirico," September 8–October 30, 1955, checklist no. 2 (lent by Jean Paulhan, Paris).

    Milan. Palazzo Reale. "Arte Italiana del XX Secolo da Collezioni Americane," April 30–June 26, 1960, no. 79 (lent by Mr. and Mrs. Samuel A. Marx, Chicago).

    Rome. Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna. "Arte Italiana del XX Secolo da Collezioni Americane," July 16–September 18, 1960, no. 79.

    New York. Museum of Modern Art. "The School of Paris: Paintings from the Florene May Schoenborn and Samuel A. Marx Collection," November 1, 1965–January 2, 1966, unnumbered cat. (p. 45).

    Art Institute of Chicago. "The School of Paris: Paintings from the Florene May Schoenborn and Samuel A. Marx Collection," February 11–March 27, 1966, unnumbered cat.

    City Art Museum of Saint Louis. "The School of Paris: Paintings from the Florene May Schoenborn and Samuel A. Marx Collection," April 26–June 13, 1966, unnumbered cat.

    Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City. "The School of Paris: Paintings from the Florene May Schoenborn and Samuel A. Marx Collection," July 2–August 7, 1966, unnumbered cat.

    San Francisco Museum of Art. "The School of Paris: Paintings from the Florene May Schoenborn and Samuel A. Marx Collection," September 2–October 2, 1966, unnumbered cat.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Florene M. Schoenborn Bequest: 12 Artists of the School of Paris," February 11–May 4, 1997, extended to August 31, 1997, brochure no. 5.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Painters in Paris: 1895 1950," March 8–December 31, 2000, extended to January 14, 2001, unnumbered cat. (p. 82).

    London. Tate Modern. "Surrealism: Desire Unbound," September 20, 2001–January 1, 2002, unnumbered cat. (fig. 41).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Surrealism: Desire Unbound," February 6–May 12, 2002, unnumbered cat. (fig. 41).

    Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Giorgio de Chirico and the Myth of Ariadne," November 3, 2002–January 5, 2003, no. 10.

    London. Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art. "Giorgio de Chirico and the Myth of Ariadne," January 22–April 13, 2003, no. 10.

    Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. "Giorgio de Chirico, la fabrique des rêves," February 13–May 24, 2009, no. 19 (as "Place avec Ariane").

    Malibu. J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa. "Modern Antiquity: Picasso, de Chirico, Léger, Picabia in the Presence of the Antique," November 2, 2011–January 16, 2012, no. 20 (as "Square with Ariadne").

  • References

    James Thrall Soby. Giorgio de Chirico. New York, [1955], pp. 52, 54–56, ill. p. 178.

    John Maxon. "Samuel Marx, Chicago: Twentieth century European Painting." Great Private Collections. Ed. Douglas Cooper. New York, 1963, p. 283, ill. p. 290.

    Lucy R. Lippard in The School of Paris: Paintings from the Florene May Schoenborn and Samuel A. Marx Collection. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 1965, pp. 44–45, ill.

    Jean Leymarie. Jean Paulhan à travers ses peintres. Exh. cat., Grand Palais. Paris, 1974, pp. 120, 211, under no. 493, pl. 7.

    Ester Coen. "Catalogo: Giorgio de Chirico." La Metafisica: Museo documentario. Casalecchio di Reno [Bologna], 1981, pp. 165–66, no. 24, ill. p. 228.

    Maurizio Fagiolo. Giorgio de Chirico: Il tempo di Apollinaire, Paris 1911–1915. Rome, 1981, pp. 46, 61, 127, no. 29, ill.

    Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco in De Chirico. Ed. William Rubin Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 1982, p. 32.

    Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco. L'opera completa di De Chirico, 1908–1924. Milan, 1984, p. 84, no. 26, ill.

    Matthew Gale. "The Uncertainty of the Painter: De Chirico in 1913." Burlington Magazine 130 (April 1988), pp. 271, 273 n. 20.

    Matthew Valence Gale. "The Enigma of Fatality: The Work of Giorgio de Chirico, 1909–1924." PhD. diss., Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 1992, vol. 1, pp. 8, 92–93, 98, 112–13, 115, 364 n. 112, p. 368 n. 49, p. 369 n. 80, p. 414 n. 5, p. 450; vol. 2, fig. 43.

    Paolo Baldacci. De Chirico: The Metaphysical Period, 1888–1919. Boston, 1997, pp. 139, 170–71, 177, 430, 441, no. 32, ill. (color).

    William S. Lieberman. "Donnés au Met." Connaissance des arts, no. 539 (May 1997), p. 68, ill. (color).

    Claudio Crescentini. "De Chirico e le Avanguardie: rapporti." G. de Chirico: Nulla Sine Tragoedia Gloria. Florence, 2002, p. 71.

    James Panero. "Exhibition Notes. 'Surrealism: Desire Unbound'." New Criterion 20 (May 2002), p. 52.

    Jole de Sanna. "'Reise. Wanderung.' Tempo metafisico." G. de Chirico: Nulla Sine Tragoedia Gloria. Florence, 2002, pp. 221–22.

    Matthew Gale in Michael R. Taylor. Giorgio de Chirico and the Myth of Ariadne. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 2002, p. 62 n. 10.

    Guigone Rolland in Michael R. Taylor. Giorgio de Chirico and the Myth of Ariadne. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 2002, p. 204, no. 10.

    Michael R. Taylor. Giorgio de Chirico and the Myth of Ariadne. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 2002, pp. 26–27, 30–31, 34–36, 48 n. 29, p. 49 n. 45, pp. 84, 101, colorpl. 10 and ill. frontispiece (color detail).

    Hans Henrik Brummer. Kleopatra blir Ariadne: Identitet och Förvandling. Exh. cat., Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde. Stockholm, 2003, pp. 174–76, ill. (color).

    Simonetta Fraquelli. "Philadelphia and London: Giorgio de Chirico." Burlington Magazine 145 (February 2003), pp. 120–21.

    Jean Louis Gaillemin. "Ariane et la ville." L'Œil, no. 546 (April 2003), ill. pp. 50–51 (color).

    Jole de Sanna. "Matematiche Metafisiche (Metaphysical Mathematics)." Metafisica, no. 3–4 (2004), pp. 55–56, 145–46, ill.

    Magdalena Holzhey. Giorgio de Chirico, 1888–1978: The Modern Myth. Cologne, 2005, pp. 28–29, ill. (color).

    Roger Rothman. "Between Böcklin and Picasso: Giorgio de Chirico in Paris, 1909–1913." Southeastern College Art Conference Review 15, no. 1 (2006), pp. 12, 14, fig. 9, ill. cover (color).

    Carole Boulbès. "Paris. Giorgio de Chirico." Artpress, no. 355 (April 2009), ill. p. 82.

    Emily Braun in Giorgio de Chirico, la fabrique des rêves. Exh. cat., Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Paris, 2009, pp. 71, 323, no. 19, ill. pp. 56–57 (color).

    Claudio Crescentini. Giorgio de Chirico: L'Enigma Velato. [Rome], [2009], p. 158.

    Silvia Loreti. "Giorgio de Chirico." Burlington Magazine 151 (May 2009), p. 335, fig. 62 (color).

    Lorenzo Canova. Nelle ombre lucenti di de Chirico. Rome, 2010, ill. p. 77 (color).

    Sara Cochran in Christopher Green and Jens M. Daehner. Modern Antiquity: Picasso, De Chirico, Léger, Picabia. Exh. cat., J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa, Malibu. Los Angeles, 2011, p. 36.

    Jens M. Daehner in Christopher Green and Jens M. Daehner. Modern Antiquity: Picasso, De Chirico, Léger, Picabia. Exh. cat., J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa, Malibu. Los Angeles, 2011, p. 44.

    Christopher Green in Christopher Green and Jens M. Daehner. Modern Antiquity: Picasso, De Chirico, Léger, Picabia. Exh. cat., J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa, Malibu. Los Angeles, 2011, pp. 67, 153, no. 20, colorpl. 22.

    Silvia Loreti in Christopher Green and Jens M. Daehner. Modern Antiquity: Picasso, De Chirico, Léger, Picabia. Exh. cat., J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa, Malibu. Los Angeles, 2011, p. 20.

    Victoria Noel Johnson in De Chirico a Castel del Monte. Il Labirinto dell'Anima. Exh. cat., Castel del Monte, Andria. Milan, 2011, pp. 20–21.

  • See also
    Who
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
486740

Close