An Italian Proto-Surrealist's Paintings Come to Life with Animation
Giorgio de Chirico influenced Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Max Ernst—and filmmaker Julien Herman.
Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico's paintings, imbued with stunning Mediterranean light and shadows, vibrant colors and dreamy textures, feel like extraordinarily lifelike worlds. Filmmaker Julien Herman expands on this idea, adding subtle animations of water, wind, sun, and human activity into paintings from de Chirico's metaphyscial period, such as his 1910 L'Enigma dell'Ora, Melancolia (1912), and Il Doppoi Sogno di Primavera (1915).
"The purpose of this project is to give life to Giorgio de Chirico’s work by animating several elements contained into his paintings like shadows, clocks, trains, pennants etc. while trying to keep the work of the artist the most intact and faithful as possible. This project is a tribute to the surreal and strange world of Giorgio de Chirico," Herman writes in the video description.
De Chirico's early work influenced surrealist icons like Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí, and René Magritte, and it shows in his distinctive color palettes and off-kilter proportions—even when he's not painting giant rubber gloves nailed to walls and faceless aliens with bodies composed of geometric shapes or small buildings. De Chirico's most reality-flouting work doesn't appear in the video, but Herman's subtelly-layered movements highlight the early 20th century master's handling of light, perspective, and world-building.
See more of Julien Herman's work on his website.