MoMA
Giorgio de Chirico. The Song of Love. Paris, June-July 1914
Giorgio de Chirico

The Song of Love

Paris, June-July 1914
On view
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
28 3/4 x 23 3/8" (73 x 59.1 cm)
Credit
Nelson A. Rockefeller Bequest
Object number
950.1979
Copyright
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome

This painting brings together incongruous and unrelated objects: the head of a Classical Greek statue, an oversized rubber glove, a green ball, and a train shrouded in darkness, silhouetted against a bright blue sky. By subverting the logical presence of objects, de Chirico created what he termed "metaphysical" paintings, representations of what lies "beyond the physical" world. Cloaked in an atmosphere of anxiety and melancholy, de Chirico's humanoid forms, vacuous architecture, shadowy passages, and eerily elongated streets evoke the profound absurdity of a universe torn apart by World War I.

Gallery label from 2006
Additional text

"M. Giorgio de Chirico has just bought a red rubber glove"—so wrote the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire in July of 1914, noting the purchase because, he went on to say, he knew the glove's appearance in de Chirico's paintings would add to their uncanny power. Implying human presence, as a mold of the hand, yet also inhuman, a clammily limp fragment distinctly unfleshlike in color, the glove in The Song of Love has an unsettling authority. Why, too, is this surgical garment pinned to a board or canvas, alongside a plaster head copied from a classical statue, relic of a noble vanished age? What is the meaning of the green ball? And what is the whole ensemble doing in the outdoor setting insinuated by the building and the passing train?

Unlikely meetings among dissimilar objects were to become a strong theme in modern art (they soon became an explicit goal of the Surrealists), but de Chirico sought more than surprise: in works like this one, for which Apollinaire used the term "metaphysical," he wanted to evoke an enduring level of reality hidden beyond outward appearances. Perhaps this is why he gives us a geometric form (the spherical ball), a schematic building rather than a specific one, and inert and partial images of the human body rather than a living, mortal being.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999
Provenance information
Paul Guillaume, Paris. 1914 - until at least 1924 [or 1927]
Marcel Raval, Paris. By 1928 - 1950
Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York. Purchased from Marcel Raval, October 1950 - 1979
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Nelson A. Rockefeller Bequest, 1979

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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource