Andros, Museum of Contemporary Art, Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, Glancing at the Century, 28 June - 20 September 1998, pp. 72-73, ill. p. 73
Following his first academic beginnings and the introduction of “Metaphysical art” in 1911, a movement that had a great impact on the origins of Surrealism in 1919, Giorgio de Chirico chose to return to a classical way of painting, in straight continuation of the Italian, French and Flemish masters. In the same year he wrote: “First and foremost, our masters taught us drawing: the drawing, the divine art, the foundation of all plastic construction, the skeleton of all accomplished work, the eternal law before which every artist has to bend”. De Chirico resumed with passion his occupation with the Greek mythology, and thanks to a real return to the roots, depicted the beaches of his childhood in Volos, placing them as a background to his pictorial compositions.
In this theme he started to deal with in 1926, lasted until the mid-1930s, then was assiduously resumed in the 1970s, horses occupy a place of particular interest. They are usually portrayed alone or in pairs, cantering on a deserted beach, scarcely enlivened by an ancient temple in the background. Is it Xanthus and Balius, Hercules’s horses? Do they belong to the legendary Arion? Regardless of their identity, they seem so straight of our imagination built around the Greek myths. De Chirico, by exaggerating the abundance of their mane and tail, emphasized this impression of epic, of the immersion in a fantastic world. This artistic style seems to correspond to the description he made, in 1943, of the sea god’s horse: “I imagined it carved out of marble, exquisite and pure as a diamond, crouching like a sphinx on the hind hocks and carrying in the eyes and the movement of its white neck the entire enigma and all the endless nostalgia of the waves”.
The riddle and nostalgia are absolutely noticeable in this version of Horses on the beach. These two horses, captured in a movement as fluid as improbable, seem to float on the ground, ready to gallop on the water. Through them, De Chirico builds his own mythology. This composition emanates calmness and harmony, both from the point of view of subjects and colours. Therefore, it is hard to imagine that its creator was going through a period of isolation, being attacked from all sides for having chosen a new pictorial way, far from the avant-garde style.