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GEOGRAPHY OF SHADOWS: Giorgio de Chirico's Italian Poetry

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Tibor De Nagy Gallery

11 Rivington Street

New York, NY 10002

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A discussion and bilingual reading of painter Giorgio de Chirico's Italian poetry, featuring Stefania Heim and John Yau.

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His language, like his painting, invisible: a transparent but dense medium containing objects that are more real than reality.

—John Ashbery

A Public Space and The Flow Chart Foundation co-present a reading and discussion celebrating Geometry of Shadows (read the recent review in Hyperallergic here), the first comprehensive collection of Giorgio de Chirico’s Italian poetry in English, translated by Stefania Heim, published by A Public Space Books. She will be joined by poet/critic John Yau, in conversation with Jeffrey Lependorf, Executive Director of The Flow Chart Foundation.

The multifaceted artist Giorgio de Chirico (1888 - 1978), considered the founder of the metaphysical school of art, and a significant influence on the surrealists, lived in multiple languages. Born in Greece to Italian parents, de Chirico was just becoming famous in France for the paintings that inspired surrealism, when he returned to Italy in 1916 to enlist for the First World War. Quickly determined unfit for the front line, de Chirico was assigned to desk duty. He began to write poems in his native language, translating his iconic visual imagination into literary form.

De Chirico first became more widely known to English language readers as a writer by way of John Ashbery (1927 - 2017), who found great inspiration in de Chirico’s work. His collection The Double Dream of Spring was named after de Chirico’s painting, and he translated parts of de Chirico’s “metaphysical novel” Hebdomeros for the journal Art and Literature as well as wrote the introduction for the full novel in English translation that can be enjoyed today (listen to Ashbery discuss and read from it here). Ashbery subsequently translated some of de Chirico’s French texts.

Now, with Geometry of Shadows, the full breadth of de Chirico’s art can be experienced in English, fully recognizing him as a poet as much as a painter. Geometry of Shadows includes a number of Italian poems in which de Chirico reimagined some of those earlier poems originally written in French, allowing a rare glimpse into the development of de Chirico as a poet.

This event at Tibor de Nagy Gallery will include bilingual readings of de Chirico’s poetry and discussion of how we might read through them, his painting in relation to his poetry, and the remarkable challenges inherent in translating poetry from one language to another.

Reservations are not required, but recommended.

Stefania Heim received a translation fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for her work on Giorgio de Chirico. A founding editor of Circumference: Poetry in Translation, she is the author of the poetry collections Hour Book and A Table that Goes On for Miles. She lives in Washington.

John Yau is an American poet and critic who lives in New York City. He received his B.A. from Bard College in 1972 and his M.F.A. from Brooklyn College in 1978. He has published over 50 books of poetry, artists' books, fiction, and art criticism.

Jeffrey Lependorf serves as the Executive Director of The Flow Chart Foundation.

A Public Space is an independent nonprofit publisher of an eponymous award-winning literary, arts, and culture magazine, and A Public Space Books.

The Flow Chart Foundation explores the interrelationships of various art forms as guided by the legacy of American poet John Ashbery and promotes engagement with his work.

This event is funded in part by Poets & Writers with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

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Tibor De Nagy Gallery

11 Rivington Street

New York, NY 10002

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