The author's research into Romano-Campanian wall-painting evolved out of investigations that he conducted into the relationship between metaphysics and perspective in the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978). De Chirico's paintings had a seminal influence on twentieth century art movements such as Surrealism, Neue Sachlichkeit, Pittura Metafisica, Post-Modernism, German Neo-Expressionism and Italian Transavantgardia, as well as twentieth century writers and filmmakers including Alfred Hitchcock, Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni and J G Ballard. Despite the extent of their influence his paintings remained shrouded in mystery.

Following extensive investigations into the visual components that underpinned the Italian artist's enigmatic paintings, particularly the relationship between metaphysics and perspective, the author discerned visual and conceptual similarities between them and ancient 'Architectural' or 'Second Style' wall-painting from Rome, Pompeii and Herculaneum, c.50BC. Further studies revealed that both were concerned with eschatological concepts focusing on lineage, ancestral remembering, commemoration and catharsis (fig.1&2). For more on this subject see: The False-Door: dissolution and becoming in Roman wall-painting.

The investigations into De Chirico's use of metaphysical perspective were incorporated into the Italian artist's retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in 1983 (fig.3) and subsequently published as “Giorgio de Chirico et la Perspective Metaphysique” in Cahiers du Musée National D'Art Moderne, Paris, 1983, No.11. (33-53); with an English translation in the "Italian Art Now", issue of Art and Design, 1989, Academy Editions, volume 5. No1/2, (6-17). For further information on these themes please see The Sigmund Freud Museum and ARTRESEARCH (Texts).

Owen was a student at Portsmouth College of Art, a Mombusho Scholar at Tokyo University of Fine Art and a research fellow at Nottingham Trent Polytechnic. He is currently Professor of Fine Art at Southampton Solent University.


Maurice Owen
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La Macchina Metafisica in Metastasis, 1974-1979 (Owen), after Il Grande Metafisico, 1917 (De Chirico), Musée D'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 1983
Piazza d' Italia, 1913, (De Chirico), Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada
Villa di P. Fannius Synistor, Boscoreale, (bedroom M), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York