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Le Regret (Regret)

On view

Le Regret (Regret)

Artist: Giorgio de Chirico (Italian, 1888 - 1978)

Date: 1916
Medium: Oil on canvas
Framed: 32 × 22 × 2in. (81.3 × 55.9 × 5.1cm)
Overall: 23 1/2 × 13in. (59.7 × 33cm)
Signed: Lower left: ' Chirico / 1916'
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 54.150
Label Text
Giorgio de Chirico joined the Italian army in May 1915 and was sent to Ferrara, but his mental and physical health soon deteriorated and he was declared unfit for battle. He was assigned clerical duties that allowed him to paint. While human beings had played a minor role in de Chirico's previous paintings, his new creations dispensed with them altogether. Unlike the former works, which contained a series of symbolic dialogues, Regret and other Metaphysical Interiors preserved an eerie silence.

Regret depicts a small courtyard filled with numerous picture frames and a T-Square. A triangular patch of sky is framed by an ornate ceiling and a dark brown building with a single window. In the foreground six cookies are attached to a vertical panel. In his memoirs, de Chirico recalled certain shops in the former Jewish ghetto where one could find candy and cookies "in exceedingly strange and metaphysical shapes." The cookies represented male and female sexual dichotomy that de Chirico had celebrated in his previous works-symbols of the dialogue between Apollonian (reason) and Dionysian (emotional) impulses that animate all of nature and human society. On a more mundane level, the cookies also were a comforting reminder of civilian life before World War I.
The objects in Regret mirrored de Chirico's condition-the artist felt hemmed in by circumstances beyond his control. A sense of claustrophobic imprisonment pervades the painting, while the slice of sky at the top symbolizes an unattainable freedom.

Willard Bohn

Presumed copyright: the artist or the artist's representative/heir(s) / Licensed by ARS, New York, NY.