Katherine has very kindly accepted to share with us information about “Metaphysical Art”, a highly specialized review comprising of extensive studies on the Maestro of Italian Metaphysical Art published by the de Chirico Foundation every two years in separate Italian and English volumes (of ca. 400 pages).
Deborah Galante. Could you please briefly describe your academic and professional background and why Giorgio de Chirico has been fundamental in your career?
Katherine Robinson. I studied Arts Plastiques at the Sorbonne University and Painting at the Brera Academy of Milan. I became passionate about de Chirico through Jole de Sanna, an art historian and dechirician specialist who revolutionised the study of the artist’s work, underlining his fundamental contribution to 20th century art and culture, and the enormous influence his work has had on artists from the 1920s on (Surrealism, Magic Realism, Novecento, Pop Art) and still continues to exercise on numerous contemporary artists.
DG. How did the idea of the periodical “Metaphysical Art” come up and how was the project constructed?
KR. The idea came from a project ideated by de Chirico himself in the early 1950s for a review that was to involve a number of Italian artists among whom, Guttuso, Severini, Sciltian and others, that was never published. Fifty years later, in 2001, the Foundation took up the idea and founded the periodical “Metafisica. Quaderni della Fondazione Giorgio e Isa de Chirico” to promote research on the artist. The publication supports the idea that de Chirico’s vast production of artwork and writings can easily be considered a discipline of research in and of itself, an oeuvre that indeed still holds much to be discovered today 36 years after the artist’s passing.
DG. How is the magazine structured? Why so long (400 pages is a commitment!) and why only one publication every two years?
KR. The periodical comprises of contributions by internationally known scholars as well as researchers of a younger generation pertaining to various fields of knowledge. These deal with the theoretical interpretation, historical critique and technical analyses of the artist’s work. Each issue presents a significant quantity of primary source documentation and written work by de Chirico (counting 200 previously unpublished letters to-date). All material is transcribed in the original language (Italian, French, German, Modern Greek) with translations in English and reproductions of original manuscripts.
The two-year interval between issues allows the Foundation to dedicate time to other activities such as exhibitions and conferences, the conservation and promotion of its art collection and the De Chirico House-museum in Rome, as well as various other publications.
DG. How are the themes chosen? Is there a precise order?
KR. There is no guideline for the choosing of themes – independent authors submit contributions according to their individual research interests. The documentation published comprises of material recently discovered in Italian and international archives.
DG. To talk more specifically about the articles; what kind of themes are concerned? Do they vary throughout the years?
KR. Themes vary greatly, an aspect that reflects de Chirico’s own eclectic scope of work, although they can be categorized in the following subject areas: theoretical interpretation, historical contextualisation and biographical reconstruction, the study of the artist’s written work and his research into painting technique.
DG. Is the subject of the forgery of de Chirico’s artwork treated in the publication?
KR. The historical and ever-present issue of forgery is dealt with through the publication of Court Judgements as well as articles revealing the methods used by forgers to promulgate fake works. The Foundation has also had to act against the falsification of the historical truth regarding the de Chirico’s work and life story, a less-known but equally damaging event. As such, “Metaphysical Art” acts as an important means allowing the Foundation to carry out its principal objective of safeguarding de Chirico’s intellectual and artistic legacy.
DG. What kind of public, apart from de Chirico enthusiasts is the publication aimed at? What impact does it have on the international stage?
KR. The periodical is dedicated to academics, students and art enthusiasts and is distributed worldwide to the most eminent libraries, universities, art academies, museums and cultural institutions. All issues including n. 11/13 (August 2014) are also available at www.fondazionedechirico.org. Among the noteworthy contributions found in the current issue are: Mannequins and Vaticinators by Ester Coen and Giorgio de Chirico, Apollinaire and Metaphysical Portraiture by Willard Bohn. De Chirico’s 1945 essay Desecrated Reality is published in English for the first time ever.
DG. Would it be possible to have a short overview on Giorgio de Chirico – Catalogue of Works (May 2014)?
KR. Fondazione Giorgio e Isa de Chirico has also recently released the first volume of Giorgio de Chirico’s Catalogue of Works comprising of 450 artworks dating from 1912 to 1976. Published by Maretti Editore, the 468-page volume comprises of paintings and works on paper authenticated by the Foundation that has duly catalogued and dated each artwork. These are works not published in Claudio Bruni Sakraischik’s original Catalogo generale di Giorgio de Chirico (1971-1987). The selection of works, many of which are little-known or totally unknown, makes a substantial contribution to knowledge on the artist’s oeuvre. The second volume is due in Spring 2015.
To conclude and highlight the importance of Giorgio de Chirico in the 20th century history of art it is dutiful to cite a phrase by Jean Cocteau in a postcard sent to the artist on the 7th of April 1936: “One encounters you wherever a miracle occurs. Jean”.
This post is also available in: Italian