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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