The Art of Enigma: The de Chirico Brothers and the Politics of Modernism

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248 pages hardcover

In this interdisciplinary book, Keala Jewell reunites Giorgio de Chirico (1888–1978) with his brother, Alberto Savinio (1891–1952), a prolific writer and painter who has been kept at the margins of the discussion of Surrealism and also the culture politics of twentieth-century Italy. The brothers worked together during their formative years in Munich and Paris and always shared, on the one hand, a drive to salvage Mediterranean myth and history and, on the other, a deep involvement with art’s power to shape cultural identity and authority.

Rather than looking for a key to unlock the secrets of the brothers’ recurrent use of dislocated spaces and bizarre hybrid figures, Jewell focuses on assessing the issues of identity and mastery put at stake in the haunting enigmas that characterize their paintings and writings. Deeply impressed by Nietzsche, she argues, they believed the "human" is inherently unstable and must be constantly "rewoven" with analogies and metaphors seized from empowering states of being.