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1914, oil and charcoal on canvas

The Guggenheim’s collection has got three important works by De Chirico: ‘The Red Tower’ (1913), ‘The Gentle Afternoon’ (1916) and ‘The Nostalgia of the Poet‘ (1914). The latter is a fundamental work inside de Chirico’s production and it offers an exceptional example of metaphysical poetry that so much fascinated also the surrealists. The picture belongs to a series of works that have the poet’s figure as their main theme and it shows some recurring features inside the artist’s research: the bust wearing dark glasses, a dummy and a fish. The poet and artist Jean Cocteau observed that metaphysics acts like an assassin that wants to kill us unexpectedly: first, he reassures us with things we are familiar with, then he fatally wounds us taking us to restless and estranging worlds. De Chirico explained: ‘Everything has got two faces: one is what we almost ever see and it is also seen by the others generally speaking, the other is a spectral and metaphysical face that can be seen only by a chosen few going through a phase of clairvoyance as well as metaphysical abstraction, exactly like certain objects that are hidden by impenetrable matter and cannot be penetrated by solar rays and therefore cannot appear unless some powerful artificial light like X-rays is used’. Also the objects we are familiar with change their look, lose their common meaning and take another one that is deeper and unknown to most. Squares, architectures, marble busts and monuments become the interpreters of a new knowledge as well as witnesses of a dreamlike and visionary world.