26.11.05

... because if you go trawling the net for images of de Chirico paintings you quickly find yourself in a forest of illusions, where versions proliferate, seeming sometimes to be of the same painting, at others of another almost, but not quite, identical. And it is never clear if you are looking at a later version painted by Giorgio himself or one done by a fake master like Luca Buti or even something digitally altered for some reason or other. In other words there are many cuckoos in de Chirico's nest, some of them laid there by himself. To me one of the most disturbing revisions is Magic and Melancholy of a Street with the image of the child bowling a hoop and the looming shadow at the top of the picture, removed. This was done as part of a project at NYU called Artistic Multiprojection Rendering. The researchers are developing an interactive tool for creating such multiprojection images and animations. Not sure why I find this particular redaction disquieting. It may be for the same reason that de Chirico's Arrival as so far superior to the fake master's: it's as if a genuine enigma is replaced by a simulacrum that mimics its particulars while eliding the very quality that made the picture so resonant in the first place. 'Real' de Chiricos, especially those made before about 1915, when the mannequins arrive, have the feeling of antique, incommensurable things. They are, strictly speaking, inimitable, which is I guess why it is so disorienting to find them imitated. In his Enigma of Arrival that is Odysseus' ship whose sail can be seen behind the wall, we are in Ithaca; but in Luca Buit's the sail is just a bit of prettiness before a pretty blue sky. Which is perhaps to ask, if I know a cuckoo when I see one, why can't those whose nest it is in? Or is it that we are all more or less deluded and our so-called integrity based upon honouring our particular delusions as true? I don't know ... but if the sail was black I would think, not Ithaca but Athens and the ship Theseus's returning, sans Ariadne, from Crete. With Aegeus about to throw himself from the walls into the sea that will bear his name.

2 comments:

~River~ said...

Some time in March this year, I had to endure the torture of listening to a 'scholarly' paper on de Chirico. I'm glad you've managed to erase that experience from my memory.

Martin Edmond said...

Cool - glad to be of service, ~river~. Erasure is so important these junkyard days.