The mysterious archaeologists

By Museo Carlo Bilotti

The mysterious archaeologists (1926/1926) by Giorgio de ChiricoMuseo Carlo Bilotti

"The mysterious Archaeologists", otherwise called "The Day and the Night" or simply "Mannequins", is the most representative work among those of Giorgio de Chirico preserved in the collection and, as such, has been taken on as the emblem of the museum.

Starting from 1914, tailoring dummies, with an egg-shaped rag head, sketched by Savinio and derived from the poetics of Guillaume Apollinaire (the man without a face) become habitual presences in the works of de Chirico, impersonating, from time to time in turn, the poet, the philosopher, the archaeologist, all alter ego of the artist, and often in pairs, testifying the indissoluble relationship with his brother Savinio, to which they linked him in addition to fraternal feelings, the same interests and the same passions.

The painting is singular in its setting and choice of colors: two mannequins, one in front of the other, rather than placed side by side, one black and one in the delicate shades of white. We are far from the dramatic chiaroscuro and the bright colors of many Dechirichian paintings The effect is mild and nuanced, almost an unfinished.

Both sit on squared and very low bases, suitable for the short, very short legs, covered with a cloth.

Equally transformed are the upper limbs, which already stop at shoulder height, replaced by plates. De Chirico's mannequin/poet/philosopher/archaeologist is pure thought, his activity, exclusively intellectual and visionary, does not require arms.

The antique draperies, the white one more detailed, the black one more mentioned, fall from the shoulders, ennobling the characters and placing them in a remote temporal sphere ...

... and in a distant place. The Greece of the artist's childhood and adolescence re-emerges as a place of the soul, seat of all beauty and human knowledge.

The buildings are still a reference to Greece. Partly indistinct, they spring from the archaeologist's womb, like memories and nostalgia for places and times past and buried

... as well as the thin blue strip, reminiscent of the sea

and the milky sky with small thin clouds, with indefinite colors, as in an old photograph.

The atmosphere is suspended, the silent place and the dialogue between the two archaeologists is a silent dialogue. The inclination of the heads, tilted forward towards each other, as if absorbed in deep thoughts. Suggests a close relationship of understanding, identification, of commonality.

The signs just mentioned on the egghead of the white archaeologist are not simplifications in the rendering of physiognomic features. They are not eyes, nor nose, nor mouth of which the Dechirichian archeologue does not miss, because it communicates without speaking and sees what only the wise can see beyond the physicality.

the veil of mystery opens, but perhaps it is about to close, to reveal or hide what few people know.

Credits: Story

Ilma Reho, curator
Museo Carlo Bilotti, Rome

Credits: All media
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