Alberto Savinio





Andrea De Chirico (1891-1952), better known under the pseudonym of Alberto Savinio, was the younger brother of Giorgio De Chirico. Like his brother, he was born in Greece, then studied in Munich and then moved to Paris. He came to painting late: he only started painting in 1927, at the age of thirty-six. He had started his artistic activity as a musician and composer. He then dedicated himself to literature. He was, therefore, both a musician, a writer and a painter. His activity as a painter began in Paris in full surrealism, and he, despite the contrary invitations of his brother Giorgio, became part of the movement. However, his style remains very unique, in an intermediate zone between surrealism and metaphysics. La di lui is a painting rich in symbolic meanings and interwoven with notable cultural references. He does not have the communicative immediacy of other surrealist painters, but requires a cultured approach in order to fully appreciate the subtle play of the various non-senses that he implements on the materials of cultural memory. In this case the shift in meaning that he implements concerns those images, or rhetorical figures, always very distant, which are the roots of our culture and our thinking. One of the most typical features of his style is the man-animal metamorphosis that appears frequently in his paintings. The character affinities that may exist between animals and humans is a very ancient concept. The fox for its cunning, or the dog for its fidelity, can easily become a symbol, or image, of astute or faithful men. This symbolism, in Savinio, acquires a more complex meaning. In fact, he is based both on the positivistic concept (that the somatic traits are determined by the character) and on notions of German psychology at the beginning of the century (according to which the character would have led a person to resemble a very precise animal, the result of the emergence of its particular bestial side). Therefore, in his paintings he carries out a particular metamorphosis between men and animals, where a non-human head is superimposed on a decidedly human body structure. He also does it for the portrait of his parents, where the mother has the head that looks like a pelican and the father has the head of a deer. As he himself says, the man-animal metamorphosis: "is the search for character, beyond the euphemisms of nature, beyond the corrections of civilization, beyond the embellishments of art".