Giorgio de Chirico
The Uncertainty of the Poet 1913

Artwork details

Giorgio de Chirico 1888–1978
The Uncertainty of the Poet
L'Incertitude du poète
Date 1913
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 1060 x 940 mm
frame: 1232 x 1125 x 73 mm
Acquisition Purchased with assistance from the Art Fund (Eugene Cremetti Fund), the Carroll Donner Bequest, the Friends of the Tate Gallery and members of the public 1985
Not on display

Display caption

The Uncertainty of the Poet

De Chirico’s quiet square evokes the classical arcades and statuary of antiquity (the sculpture is a torso of Aphrodite). In contrast, the passing train and perishable bananas suggest a sense of the contemporary and immediate. The distorted perspective and shadows undermine the conventions of pictorial space and time. De Chirico’s early works were enthusiastically embraced by the Surrealists, who saw in them a dream-like parallel existence. The poet Paul Eluard wrote: ‘these squares are outwardly similar to existing squares and yet we have never seen them ... We are in an immense, previously inconceivable, world.’

September 2004