Giorgio de Chirico was a Greek-born Italian artist. In the years before World War I, he founded the scuola metafisica art movement, which profoundly influenced the surrealists. After 1919, he became interested in traditional painting techniques, and worked in a neoclassical or neo-Baroque style, while frequently revisiting the metaphysical themes of his earlier work.
Born in Greece, he moved to Germany in 1906 and entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. At the beginning of 1910, he moved to Florence where he painted the first of his 'Metaphysical Town Square' series. He then moved to Paris in July 1911. During 1913 he exhibited paintings at the Salon des Indépendants and Salon d’Automne; his work was noticed by Pablo Picasso and Guillaume Apollinaire, and he sold his first painting, The Red Tower.
At the outbreak of the First World War, he returned to Italy and enlisted in the Italian army, but he was considered unfit for work and assigned to the hospital at Ferrara. He continued to paint, and in 1918, he transferred to Rome. From 1918 his work was exhibited extensively in Europe.
De Chirico is best known for the paintings he produced between 1909 and 1919, his metaphysical period, which are memorable for the haunted, brooding moods evoked by their images. At the start of this period, his subjects were still cityscapes inspired by the bright daylight of Mediterranean cities, but gradually he turned his attention to studies of cluttered storerooms, sometimes inhabited by mannequin-like hybrid figures.
In 1939, he adopted a neo-Baroque style influenced by Rubens. De Chirico's later paintings never received the same critical praise as did those from his metaphysical period. He resented this, as he thought his later work was better and more mature. He remained extremely prolific even as he approached his 90th year. In 1974 he was elected to the French Académie des Beaux-Arts. He died in Rome on November 20, 1978.