The UNREAL REALITY collection was inspired by metaphysical art, also know as: "pittura metafisica", which was marked by the use of imagery based on classical Renaissance architecture and Greek sculpture, to create a mysterious and slightly unsettling atmosphere. Giorgio De Chirico, whose work we took great inspiration from, was the founder of this movement.
Although hailing from Greece, as a young boy De Chirico grew up in Munich, where ie was able to read the philosophy of Nietzsche and see paintings by Arnold Böcklin, a Swiss symbolist painter, both of whom were to have a significant influence on his work and his thinking.
This painting, titled 'Enigma of an Autumn Afternoon', is the first known painting in the metaphysical art movement, was painted in 1910. Our design team was initially drawn to this painting during the creation of the DIVINE BEINGS collection which was directly inspired by Ancient Greek art. This is the first painting in de Chirico's Metaphysical Town Square series, and the first painting in which he settled upon the style and imagery for which he is now famous - quiet, enigmatic, strangely simplified scenes of old towns.
'The Song of Love', by Giorgio de Chirico, is one of his most famous works and an early example of the surrealist style, though it was painted ten years before the movement was "founded" by André Breton in 1924. The painting is so famous because it features a distorted perspective with objects in unreal sizes - this is reality, but not as we know it. It is almost as if we step into De Chirico’s dream.
De Chirico often talked of the importance of dreams, and maintaining a mentality of childlike innocence, and of the need to avoid logic in the creation of beautiful images; but his focus was less on his own thoughts and psychology than on revealing the strangeness of the world. In manuscripts of his writing he described the experience of seeing the world as "an immense museum of curiousness, full of odd toys", for him everything in this world was a toy that he could use within his paintings.
The red glove is symbolic of the metaphysical art movement, and it recurs in de Chirico’s paintings often. The glove is empty but has the suggestion of recently being used, referencing the fact that the scene the viewer sees features real objects but it is not reality. It is for this reason that we incorporated red gloves into the UNREAL REALITY collection. We created bespoke gloves for the collection in two lengths.
The RED TOWER GOWN is inspired by the red towers seen in the background of many of de Chirico’s paintings. These painting show a disjunction in time that creates a sense of melancholy, nostalgia, and uneasiness all at the same time. The painting below really shows De Chirico’s use of absurd perspectives. We look through distorted buildings in unreal sizes to a red tower that seems to appear from no-where, again, as if we have stepped into a dream.
Metaphysical art was an extremely short-lived movement, mainly due to to outbreak of World War One and the impact that it had upon the creation of art. However in the wake of the war, and mainly thanks to the developments of the Metaphysical Art movement, sprang one of the most important movements of the 20th Century – Surrealism. The artists of the surrealist movement took De Chirico’s ideas to the next level, it is well documented that most well known surrealist artist, Salvador Dali, was a huge admirer of De Chirico.
‘Dream caused by the flight of a bee around a pomegranate a second before waking’ is a wonderful example of Dali's work and the influence of the ideas found in Metaphysical Art. This painting has obvious reference to dreams, even in the title, but Dali’s use of photorealistic painting for strange content is incongruous, the content is made more palatable, but we are encouraged to consider the relationship between internal and external realities.
It has been said that the emotional shock Magritte felt upon seeing De Chirico’s paintings led him to paint his first surrealist work. The piece you see here is titled ‘Memory’; painted in 1948 this work quite overly references De Chirico. But Magritte’s painting is more advanced. The head wound represents memories seeping out and perhaps how painful these memories are to her. The other objects relate to that memory and although inanimate they are imbued with meaning. This is only one in a series of works by Magritte which have this allegorical theme.
Giving meaning to inanimate objects and abstracting images into a dreamlike world inspired the artwork for the UNREAL BIKER JACKET. Both metaphysical art and surrealism are incorporated into this design, you see the mouth, the fingers and of course the red glove. The displaced objects in De Chirico’s paintings also inspired the blown up elements in some of the garments, the double collars and the unexpected juxtaposition of patterns and shapes.
The print we created for the SURREAL COAT, INKED CIGARETTE TROUSERS and MIRO SKIRT was inspired by Andre Masson’s Automatic drawings and is a huge part of the collection. Masson started creating automatic drawings in the 1920s. Like a medium channeling a phantom spirit, Masson let his pen travel across the paper without any conscious control, creating an abstract, web-like form. For Masson, artistic intentions should just escape consciousness.
Constantly drawing inspiration from and reinterpreting the world around us is key to the creation of every PRITCH London collection.