September 19, 2014
'Fatalities': Giorgio de Chirico's Scene of the Crime
Prof. Ara H. Merjian (NYU)
Wymilwood Lounge (GSC148)
“De Chirico, or the scene of the crime.” Thus reads a line from Jean Cocteau’s lyrical homage to the painter Giorgio de Chirico: a painter of evacuated urban spaces who – Cocteau declares – “is not really a painter.” For, de Chirico’s “Metaphysical” paintings from the early 1910s not only present evacuated cityscapes, but also insinuate fragmented narratives in and around their disquieting structures. This paper examines the rapports between de Chirico’s paintings from pre-war Paris and the roman policier – the crime genre upon which the painter himself drew, and to which his images have contributed in turn: from the pulp fiction of the Fantômas series to the contemporary photography of Eugène Atget, and the Surrealist movement indebted to all of these for its elaborations of modern myth.