Art: Mystery and Implied Rumble

"Did not William Blake contemn reason and paint the ghost of a flea?"

Erudite Director Alfred Hamilton Barr of Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art once asked this question, writing in the days (1930) when the surrealist movement direly needed an apologist in the U.S. Last fortnight, Barr's Museum acquired one of the most important early surrealist paintings. The picture was 55-year-old Italian Giorgio de Chirico's Delights of the Poet, painted in 1913.

Delights of the Poet is a medium-size canvas representing the haunting mem ory of an Italian town square. The picture seems deserted of humanity, a stage set standing in uneasy expectation...

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