Italian painter, sculptor, theatrical designer and writer born at Volo in Greece, of Italian parents. Studied drawing and painting at the Athens Polytechnic 1903-6 and for eighteen months at the Munich Academy, where he discovered the work of Böcklin. Moved to Italy in 1908. In Paris 1911-15 met Apollinaire, Picasso and others, and painted a highly influential group of paintings evoking dream-like architectural visions of Italy. Further developed this style, known as Metaphysical painting, at Ferrara 1915-18. Began in 1918 in Rome to make a close study of the paintings and techniques of the Old Masters. First one-man exhibition at the Casa d'Arte Bragaglia, Rome, 1919. Again from 1925-31 in Paris where the Surrealists, who admired his early paintings, attacked him for his adoption of a more traditional style (portraits, still lifes, horses by the sea, etc.). Spent the 1930s partly in Italy, partly in Paris and New York, then settled in 1943 in Rome. Designed sets and costumes for various ballets and operas, and made a number of small sculptures, mainly from 1968 onwards; his writings included a poetic novel Hebdomeros 1929 and an autobiography Memorie della mia Vita 1945. Died in Rome.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.120