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Styles & Periods
Metaphysical Painting

Metaphysical painting, while not officially ever a style, explored the possibilities of expressing irrationality and intuition in a manner later dominated by the Surrealists. Iconography, including figures in classical architectural settings, characterizes the work of many of the Metaphysical painters. Giorgio de Chirico developed and practiced the style, with followers including Carlo Carrà and Giorgio Morandi. Psychoanalysis, dreams and fantasy were coming into vogue, as artists sought out new means for expression. Metaphysical painters did not completely reject tradition, however. Strong interests in one-point perspective and the architecture of Italy’s arched walkways and squares dominate De Chirico’s work. The artist managed to forge a new sensibility in his work although these elements were unpredictable, either due to light sources, contradicting images, or unreal perspective. The Metaphysical painters imbued their canvases with emotions of shock, surprise and mystery, and were the forerunners of one of the defining styles of the 20th century, Surrealism.


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