Metaphysical painting

Metaphysical painting. Italian pictorial current that was characterized by the juxtapositions of objects in open perspectives and by the representation of a dreamlike and desolate world. The metaphysical pictorial movement provided signifiers to later movements such as Dadaism and Surrealism . This movement was short-lived and was definitively dissolved in 1920 .


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  • 1 Story
  • 2 General
  • 3 Representatives
  • 4 Features
  • 5 Sources


Metaphysical painting arose from the desire to explore the interior and imagined life of everyday objects, for which the painters represented them in unusual contexts; contexts that served to explain or condition the intellectual attitude in the work.

In metaphysical paintings the implausible and illogical seems credible. They stand out in the metaphysical pictorial treatment of objects, their solidity, their separation in space and the secret dialogue between them, thus conditions it. For metaphysical painters attention to the simplicity of ordinary things was the leitmotif for their works, and in which they point, many times, to a more hidden state and loaded with metaphors.


Metaphysical painting appears as an opposite reaction to the futuristic dynamism and the formal destruction that Expressionism had brought about . In this sense, it becomes essentially static and figurative; rescuing the form and endowing it with a metaphorical language that underlies a certain symbolic charge.

The term «metaphysical painting» is the Spanish equivalent of the Italian «Metaphysical pittura». The painters of this movement used the realistic technique to represent traditional perspectives; through which they represented dreamlike and visionary scenes; generally empty, and in which they fostered the relationships of unusual objects such as statues, mannequins, artifacts, architectural elements, etc. In general metaphysical painters tried to represent the hidden behind the appearance of ordinary and simple things.

The play with shadows is one of the most characteristic elements of metaphysical productions, since its contrast in the accentuated perspectives and fugues in the distant horizons gave a uniqueness to productions by an artist like Giorgio di Chirico . For this representative, the canvas becomes a receptacle for an overwhelming and enigmatic mystery; in which silence completely invades the scene and becomes protagonist. In the works of Chirico ideas like the previous ones are frequent; ideas that were reaffirmed by him when he expressed:

“There is more mystery in the shadow of a man walking on a sunny day than in all the world’s religions.”


Among the exponents of this movement are Carlo Carrá , a painter who had been one of the leaders of Futurism, and Giorgio di Chirico, also an artist who had been working in Paris and had been admired by Guillaume Apollinaire and by other avant-garde artists such as a painter. of mysterious, urban scenes and still lifes. Other painters linked to metaphysical art were Giorgio Morandi and Filippo de Pisis .


  • Naturalistic representation of figures, objects and actions in a controlled scenic-pictorial space.
  • Scenes full of mystery and stillness.
  • Images that move away from the ordinary and ordinary world.
  • Highly poetic pictorial language, strong and formally corrective.
  • Exploration of the enigmatic nature of objects and their possibilities within painting.
  • Representation of desolate environments, devoid of life and in which varied figurations are juxtaposed.
  • Using the conventional perspective, pondering the spatial.
  • Marked effect and emphasis on shadow effects as an element to enhance the effects of spatial relationships, light and depth.
  • Strong desire to represent the inner life of objects and their interrelation.


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