Benezit's great 'Dictionary of Painters, Sculptors, Draughtsmen and Engravers', in its entry for Sergio Ceccotti, describes him as the "heir of '"pittura metafisica"- which is to say of his Italian compatriots Giorgio de Chirico and Carlo Carrd.
All dictionary entries are a species of shorthand - there is never enough room to say everything that should be said. This particular example, like many of its kind, is both true and untrue.
Ceccotti, like many living Italian artists, certainly owes something to the ambiguous genius of de Chirico.

To begin an analysis of Ceccotti's work it is necessary to look at his background, and to note in particular that he was a pupil of Kokoschka.
There is of course a kind of parallel here with de Chirico himself, since the latter owed much to Central European painting and in particular to the work of Arnold Bocklin.
In both cases the legacy seems to have been less technical than spiritual - this background gave both artists access to a kind ofangst which is usually foreign to the Italian temperament. In his paintings, Ceccotti represents all the phases of twentieth century unease.
He uses his commitment to anxiety in a profoundly creative way, to hold a mirror up to many aspects modern urban society. The reason for rejecting too close a comparison with de Chirico is nevertheless obvious.
There are many elements in Ceccotti's painting which reach well beyond the boundaries which the older artist set for himself.
Like many European painters of his particular generation, Ceccotti seems to owe a great deal, whether he likes it or not, to American culture.
Where artists are concerned, these influences are not the immediately fashionable ones.
The frenzied experiments of the New York avant-garde seem to have passed him by, and the apparent allusions to Pop Art in some early paintings, for example At the Bar II (1962) seem to be examples, not of direct contact with America, but of a sensibility working independently, but taking account of the same range of visual material.
The American artist Ceccotti is closest to - much closer, it seems to me, than he is to de Chirico or any Italian confrere, is Edward Hopper.
Hopper is the master of a certain kind of urban melancholy, and he is also a poet of transience. He has a range of typical subjects which often matches that found in Ceccotti's work.
For an example of this Hopperesque element, one can cite Ceccotti's recent Large Hotel Scene (1999), which repeats many of Hopper's most typical elements - not only the of the room itself, but the suitcase in the foreground which portends an immediate departure, and the standing man in a raincoat and fedora hat, who seems so very like some of Hopper's personages from the 1930s.
Yet here, too, one is in danger of making a comparison which is too superficial to fit the true circumstances. Ceccotti is indeed an artist imbued with Pop culture, where many impor- tant elements necessarily come from the other side of the Atlantic.
A closer examination of Large Hotel Scene suggests how this source material is inflected and mediated. On top of the wardrobe in this hotel bedroom is a television set, apparently showing a scene from a horror movie. The clothed man can be read, not as a contemporary personage, but as a character in a mid-century film noir. His gesture suggests that he is either threatening or more likely warning the other visible figure - a nude woman in her bath. Perhaps he is telling her that this refuge - her anonymous room - must be abandoned at once, since it is no longer as safe as she believes? It is not surprising to learn that this work has entered the collection of Jean Paul Belmondo, whose career as an actor is indissolubly linked with the devlopment of the film noir in France.

Three windows


Souvenir of Holland


Paris Panorama


Metropolitan Happening