Friday, March 29, 2013

The Soothsayer's Recompense

This painting portrays a character from ancient myths: Ariadne. In the story she helps Theseus kill the Minotaur and escape the labyrinth, but he then abandons her on the Island of Naxos as she sleeps. The figure of Ariadne resembles the sketches in Reinach's "Repertoire de la Statuaire Grecque et Romaine" which portray Hellenistic sculptures and ideal human forms. Although the figure clearly looks like a statue, it has a dream-like, effervescent quality. This exemplifies the concept of hope for love and the heartache caused by such hope. The train in the background could be a reference to de Chirico's isolation from his father, or it could represent the movement of modernity. Either way, the painting portrays a feeling of abandonment. It could be the abandonment of the old classical style of art for new styles. De Chirico thought that his contemporary artists and culture emphasized ideas over quality of painting, and he believed in the importance of skill and talent in art. The train could also represent the abandonment the artist felt from his father. Many of de Chirico's other paintings address the concept of isolation. Part of the sense of isolation comes from the bare scenery. De Chirico created fall scenes in his art, as he thought that the fall was a season of recovery after harsh and feverish summer. He liked the long shadows, wide open spaces, and mystery of fall. These characteristics and the Italian porticos in his work were influenced by his 20s when he read the works of Nietzsche.
 "The Soothsayer's Recompense" was created using a grid system called "squaring up" to plan his composition, create balance, and manage perspective. De Chirico used this in many of his other paintings he created in 1913. The painting is one of the larger paintings created by de Chirico, and it is one of the two largest paintings in his Ariadne series.    p. 349

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