This painting just so happens to be one of the pieces that I included in my Museum report. It is called Ariadne and was painted by Giorgio de Chirico in 1913. This piece captures the essence of modern art in its rejection of the artistic styles of before. It is a far cry from Academicism, and, much like contemporaries such as Picasso, experiments with different forms that are far more simplified. When looking at this piece, I personally draw comparison to the Les Demoiselles d’Avignon because of such experiments. Like the Avignon, the piece does not hold to the traditional standards of ideal form, yet still draws influence from art forms of the past. The Demoiselles is inspired by the Archaic and Iberian faces and art styles of those time periods and incorporates those styles into its makeup. Similarly, Chirico’s Ariadne is inspired by the Greek statuary and myths of the past. While modernism is shown through a more simplified composition, that evens borders on the surreal, the woman – the titular Ariadne- lying on the stone slab and having traditional Greek robes splayed across her body, reminds us of the Classical Greek statues of women and even the earlier Kourei women of the Archaic period as well.
A major inspiration for the piece was Greek myths. Through this piece, Chirico was able to tap into his Greek ancestry, which he demonstrated through reference to the idealized Greek forms, demonstrating chiaroscuro and the story behind the painting as well. The painting Ariadne, was based on the myth of a woman, named Ariadne, who was abandoned by her lover, Theseus, on the island of Naxos. Though Ariadne is sleeping, the background and general mood of the painting invokes a sense of loneliness, isolation and betrayal. Seeing the story behind this painting allowed me to be reminded of Classics as well. In Classics, we had read another Greek story of betrayal in Medea , by Euripides. Though Medea essentially gave up everything for her lover and then husband, Jason, everything meaning her family and homeland, he decides to abandon her for another woman. Wanting him to suffer for what he did to her, she kills their children as well as his new bride, Glauce, before riding away in her snake chariot, in order to burn a similar feeling of despair into him. Ariadne displays a similar theme of a man betraying a loyal woman like Medea does. And through the modernist interpretation of the myth, the betrayal and loneliness is made all the more palpable.
Image of Medea
Skaie Cooper, Team Ares