4 Lessons Giorgio de Chirico Can Teach Photographers

Giorgio de Chirico: probably one of the most underrated and underrepresented painters and artists of all time.

Why I love the work of Giorgio de Chirico

His paintings transport you into a different world. A different universe; surreal and next-level metaphysical.

I think Giorgio’s personal philosophies and paintings are both fascinating and enigmatic.

We could shoot photos like this

To me the paintings of Giorgio conjure this idea:

If Henri Cartier-Bresson could paint super epic color paintings, this is what they would look like.

Because the work of Giorgio concentrate on architecture; we can definitely make photos in a similar vein!

Some practical lessons we can apply to our photography:

1. Make enigmatic pictures

My paintings are small (the biggest is 50 x 70 cm), but each of them is an enigma, each contains a poem, an atmosphere (Stimmung) and a promise that you can not find in other paintings. It brings me immense joy to have painted them – when I exhibit them, possibly in Munich this spring, it will be a revelation for the whole world.

1. You don’t need your photos or pictures to be big in order to make an impact (in praise of printing smaller photos, or smaller photo books)
2. Create an atmosphere in your pictures

Reminds me of this Henri Cartier-Bresson photo:

Henri Cartier-Bresson

2. Visions and dreams

Giorgio de Chirico – The Enigma of a Day

How to make immortal pictures:

To become truly immortal a work of art must escape all human limits: logic and common sense will only interfere. But once these barriers are broken it will enter the regions of childhood vision and dream.

Seek to tap into your childhood visions and dreams.

3. Hold immense faith in yourself

Giorgio de Chirico – Gare Montparnasse

It is most important that we should rid art of all that it has contained of ‘recognizable material’ to date, all familiar subject matter, all traditional ideas, all popular symbols must be banished forthwith. More important still, we must hold enormous faith in ourselves; it is essential that the revelation we receive, the conception of an image which embraces a certain thing, which has no sense in itself, which has no subject, which means ‘absolutely nothing’ from the logical point of view.. ..should speak so strongly in us, evoke such agony or joy, that we feel compelled to paint.

Compel yourself to make artwork; have extreme faith in yourself.

4. The importance of architecture

Among the many senses that modern painters have lost, we must number the sense of architecture. The edifice accompanying the human figure, whether alone or in a group, whether in a scene from life or in an historical drama, was a great concern of the ancients. They applied themselves to it with loving and severe spirit, studying and perfecting the laws of perspective. A landscape enclosed in the arch of a portico or in the square or rectangle of a window acquires a greater metaphysical value, because it is solidified and isolated from the surrounding space. Architecture completes nature. (1920)

Lesson: Juxtapose nature, architecture, and people in your pictures.

Similar Henri Cartier-Bresson Photos

Photos of Henri Cartier-Bresson which remind me of the style of Giorgio de Chirico, with surrealist vibes:

More Giorgio

More favorite paintings:


  1. Shoot more street photos that focus on architecture, and make the subjects very small.
  2. The less busy your pictures, the more breathing room it has. And will create a better mood.
  3. Study both photography and philosophy. I’m fascinated that Giorgio was inspired by Nietzsche.

Shoot on,

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