Painted in 1914, Giorgio de Chirico’s Gare Montparnasse (The Melancholy of Departure) describes the public space around the Parisian station, Gare Montparnasse. At first glance, the painting is compositionally and spatially convincing yet closer inspection reveals many inconstancies which bring into question any reality that may at first be apparent. De Chirico was to go on to establish the movement called Metaphysical painting. Metaphysical painting used representational elements that are incongruous to produce a perplexing image.
The buildings and the road use conflicting perspective with conflicting vanishing points. The flags fluttering furiously in the distance are driven by wind which seems to not be acting at all on the smoke emerging from the steam train. The shadows, inconsistent and at varying angles, are long, as if it is the late afternoon, yet the time on the tower reads, 1:30 pm. The space is populated only by two figures and a bunch of green bananas which sit in the foreground. There seems to be no apparent reason for the bananas but they do add significantly to the composition, breaking up an otherwise geometric layout with an organic pattern.
The ambiguous space and the ambiguous elements gives the painting a sense of mystery and poignancy. It can leave the viewer suspecting that there is something more to the scene that is alluding them. The painting distorts the logic that underpins our understanding the physical world around us and includes subjects that create possibilities for a narrative but no clear resolution.
Your project this week is to find a space you inhabit or photos of a public space. Think about what the space has been like during lockdown. Use one area of the space such as a corner, to make a drawing.
Giorgio de Chirico’s painting, Gare Montparnasse (The Melancholy of Departure) describes the space around the station in Paris which is called Gare Montparnasse. We can see two people in the distance and a bunch of green bananas close to us. We are not quite sure why the bananas are there? The painting looks like it is showing something real but when we look closer we can see that not everything makes sense.
The buildings and the road seem to be going in their own strange directions. The flags fluttering in the distance are driven by wind which seems to not be acting at all on the smoke emerging from the steam train. The shadows are long, as if it is the late afternoon, yet the time on the tower reads as 1:30 pm. There seems to be different times being described, all at once. The painting seems to be a little like a dream where things can change in a moment.
Does the painting have a feeling to it and how would you describe it?
Your project this week is to find a room in your house or photos of an outside space. Think about what the space has been like during lockdown. Use one area of the space such as a corner, to make a drawing.