• Blueprints and Ruins: The Architectural Afterlifes of Giorgio de Chirico
    Ara H. Merjian

Ted Benoît, Untitled, c. 1985. Courtesy the artist.

Perhaps no painter's vision has proven more consequential to the modern built environment than that of Giorgio de Chirico (1888–1978). Completed chiefly in Paris on the eve of World War I, de Chirico's metaphysical cityscapes (1909–19) helped redirect the course of the modernist architectural imagination. From the Scuola Metafisica in Italy toward the end of World War I to the interwar experiments of German Dada, French Surrealism, and Fascist architecture, up through postmodern design and theory, de Chirico's paintings shaped both revolutionary and reactionary conceptions of urban space, from utopian rehearsals to actual application. For all this wide-ranging and enduring significance, de Chirico's early images have yet to be addressed in the full range and breadth of their international influence. Incorporating unpublished archival material along with theoretical considerations, Blueprints and Ruins examines these cityscapes’ nuanced and profound effects upon modern and postmodern architecture, as well as their two-dimensional representations.

Ara H. Merjian is associate professor of Italian studies at New York University, where he is an affiliate of the Institute of Fine Arts and the Department of Art History. He received both his BA (from Yale University) and his PhD (from the University of California, Berkeley) in the history of art, and is the author of Giorgio de Chirico and the Metaphysical City: Nietzsche, Paris, Modernism (Yale University Press, 2014). Before joining the faculty at NYU, he taught at Stanford and Harvard, and he has lectured at MIT,  MoMA, and the Académie de France in Rome. His essays on Giacomo Balla, Le Corbusier, Jean Cocteau, and other modernist subjects have appeared in journals, such as Grey Room, Oxford Art Journal, Modernism/Modernity, and the Getty Research Journal, and his criticism regularly appears in Artforum, Frieze, and other forums.