The Riddler of Modernism
"Is there a stranger case among the great artists of the 20th century than Giorgio de Chirico? The images he painted at the start of his career, in the 1910's, have been so completely absorbed into our visual subconscious that it's actually difficult to see what made them startling in the first place. You can't imagine Atget or Hitchcock or Bunuel, much less their innumerable progeny, without de Chirico's empty piazzas and weird combinations of objects. At the same time, it's hard to be shocked by his Surreal images, which are cliches by now."