LA CRISI DELL’ARTE
LE MEMORIE DI DE CHIRICO E I CRITICI DEL MODERNO
Marco de Paoli
In his Memoirs, Giorgio de Chirico fiercely attacks modern art and the avant-garde, of which he had been a member himself, with devastating judgements about major artistic movements, from Impressionism to the Sezession and Surrealism, reserving harsh words for such artists as Van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse, Modigliani. If we disregard his undoubtedly extreme and enraged tone, in an attempt to find the underlying explanations for such judgements, we may see how de Chirico’s polemic is part of the wider process of “Rappel à l’ordre” that followed the First World War, involving artists and writers such as Severini and Soffici. In particular, de Chirico’s polemic seems to be directed at artistic trends, at the loss of skill and technique, and at the enormous business-machine built on the marketing of modern art, a machine capable of making or breaking artists in the name of trade and money. De Chirico’s polemic must be analysed vis-à-vis various authors’ polemical viewpoints towards modern art, some of which are often incompatible or even in direct opposition to one another, but which converge on the same criticism from different angles. Thus, Berdjaev and Bulgakov talked about the “crisis of art” and recognised in modern art the “corpse of beauty”; Seedlmayr saw in modern art the “loss of the centre”; recently Baudrillard has attacked the “dictatorship of images” and “the fetish of art”, and Clair has gone so far as to criticize the very meaning of art, which is finally reduced to a celebration of the “immundus”.