Giacomo Balla and Futurism Art Celebrates 100th Anniversary
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Founding Fathers of FuturismClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Leaders of An Anti-establishment Movement
As early as 1912 - 1915, these great artists were making their way to mainstreaming Europe's cultural scene. Their mainstream agenda was a cause known as Futurism. Futurism was born from the mind of Italian poet F. T. Marinetti, when he published a declaration of his personal ideas, motives, and intentions- on the front page of a Paris newspaper, Le Figaro, the twentieth of February, 1909. The declaration read;
“Let’s break out of the horrible shell of wisdom and throw ourselves like pride-ripened fruit into the wide, contorted mouth of the wind! Let’s give ourselves utterly to the Unknown, not in desperation but only to replenish the deep wells of the Absurd! Let the good incendiaries with charred fingers come! Here they are! Heap up the fire to the shelves of the libraries! Divert the canals to flood the cellars of the museums! Let the glorious canvases swim ashore! Take the picks and hammers! Undermine the foundation of venerable towns!" —F. T. Marinetti
With that newspaper publication, it only took a matter of days to spread, Marinetti's anti establishment sentiments crossed Eastern and Western Europe, over the vast ocean to Argentina and up through Mexico. Marinetti's manifesto was a clear call to reformation. This reform would later find its way into the hearts of men like Fortunato Depero, Ivo Panniggi, Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, and Fascist party leader Ben'ito Mussolini.
What started as a one man movement quickly turned to a revolutionary crossroad. Classically instructed artists proficient in Impressionism; started fusing Cubist ideology, and manipulating anatomically correct formations with racing locomotives, automobiles, functionality, speed, and circular motion. These artists were also known for painting their subjects in a mayhem of colors; using bold, contrasting, color clashes. Many Futurists found new ways to mold their often explosive, radical, ideas together within an object, with the intention of leaving those viewing the painting or sculpture, puzzled and amused.
The Futurists were the first to embody complete aspects of society into one movement. Which made the far reaching arms of the Futurism movement, completely different from many other historical movements. Futurism was able to enveloped the complexities of architectural fundamentalism, furniture design, textiles, social reform, sculpture, music, and painting all under one cause and effect. Italy had not been that submerged in philosophical thinking or engulfed in the notions of ideological revolution since the Renaissance period of the 14th century.
- The Futurists
"The Futurists loved speed, noise, machines, pollution, and cities; they embraced the exciting new world that was then upon them rather than hypocritically enjoying the modern world’s comforts while loudly denouncing the forces that made them possible." —as described by Futurism author, Kim Scarborough.
Reconstructing the Universe By Fortunato Depero
Many commissioned paintings by Fortunato Depero featured fabric elements, painted amid the arrangement of glossy painted people in motion with strange elements. He would combined odd head formations, and place them on top of the subjects hands or feet. Making it virtually impossible for someone to critique the artwork, without often lengthy and negative dialog. Which was clearly for his own amusement, since he despised critics. Most of the artisans in the Futurist movement hated critiques. It is a known fact that he and his fellow artisans, would sit together and read out loud the ghastly reviews of their creativity, as if they were trying to stage a carnival sideshow. That is why many artists gathered around a manifesto written in 1910 that called for an abrupt end to critical reviews. Fortunato Depero made himself a relevant Futurist on the eleventh day of March,1915- when at the meager age of 22 he made known his ultimate intentions; "To Reconstruct the Universe." From that moment forward- Depero joined the ranks of many other Futurist artists, who eventually turned the art movement into a political rally cry.
The Sound of Futurism, Luigi Russolo
Reconstruction of the Universe Proclamations
- Manifesto of Futurism (1909) written by F. T. Marinetti. Here is a link to the original French text: → Read Me
- Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting (1910) written by painters Carra, Balla, Severini, painter/sculptor Boccioni, and composer/painter Russolo. It is also worth mentioning that is manifesto spawned the birth of several other "Manifesto tecnico della's..." (titled in original text for researchers) from sculptures to musicians. The second "Manifesto tecnico della" was a literary manifesto.
- Universal Announcements (1915) made by Fortunato Depero
- Musical Sounds composed (1913) by Luigi Russolo adaptive from spoons, megaphones and wooden barrels.
The 1909 Manifesto of Futurism
The year 2009 marked the 100th Anniversary of Futurism. A movement that was started by an Italian poet named F. T. Marinetti. Marinetti was born in Alexandria, Egypt. His parents were Italian immigrants, who had migrated to Egypt for work.
F. T. Marinetti is widely known as the founder of Futurism, an early twentieth-century cultural revolution that began as a literary movement and expanded to influence painters, architects, sculptors, composers, and authors. He wrote his manifesto February 20th, 1909 which was featured in the Le Figaro, Parisian newspaper. (In order to provide you an idea what the Futurism movement was about, an exact copy of the manifesto is featured next.)
Manifesto della Futurismo (original title)
We have been up all night, my friends and I, beneath mosque lamps whose brass cupolas are bright as our souls, because like them they were illuminated by the internal glow of electric hearts. And trampling underfoot our native sloth on opulent Persian carpets, we have been discussing right up to the limits of logic and scrawling the paper with demented writing.
Our hearts were filled with an immense pride at feeling ourselves standing quite alone, like lighthouses or like the sentinels in an outpost, facing the army of enemy stars encamped in their celestial bivouacs. Alone with the engineers in the infernal stokeholes of great ships, alone with the black spirits which rage in the belly of rogue locomotives, alone with the drunkards beating their wings against the walls.
Then we were suddenly distracted by the rumbling of huge double decker trams that went leaping by, streaked with light like the villages celebrating their festivals, which the Po in flood suddenly knocks down and uproots, and, in the rapids and eddies of a deluge, drags down to the sea.
Then the silence increased. As we listened to the last faint prayer of the old canal and the crumbling of the bones of the moribund palaces with their green growth of beard, suddenly the hungry automobiles roared beneath our windows.
`Come, my friends!' I said. `Let us go! At last Mythology and the mystic cult of the ideal have been left behind. We are going to be present at the birth of the centaur and we shall soon see the first angels fly! We must break down the gates of life to test the bolts and the padlocks! Let us go! Here is they very first sunrise on earth! Nothing equals the splendor of its red sword which strikes for the first time in our millennial darkness.'
We went up to the three snorting machines to caress their breasts. I lay along mine like a corpse on its bier, but I suddenly revived again beneath the steering wheel - a guillotine knife - which threatened my stomach. A great sweep of madness brought us sharply back to ourselves and drove us through the streets, steep and deep, like dried up torrents. Here and there unhappy lamps in the windows taught us to despise our mathematical eyes. `Smell,' I exclaimed, `smell is good enough for wild beasts!'
And we hunted, like young lions, death with its black fur dappled with pale crosses, who ran before us in the vast violet sky, palpable and living.
And yet we had no ideal Mistress stretching her form up to the clouds, nor yet a cruel Queen to whom to offer our corpses twisted into the shape of Byzantine rings! No reason to die unless it is the desire to be rid of the too great weight of our courage!
We drove on, crushing beneath our burning wheels, like shirt-collars under the iron, the watch dogs on the steps of the houses.
Death, tamed, went in front of me at each corner offering me his hand nicely, and sometimes lay on the ground with a noise of creaking jaws giving me velvet glances from the bottom of puddles.
`Let us leave good sense behind like a hideous husk and let us hurl ourselves, like fruit spiced with pride, into the immense mouth and breast of the world! Let us feed the unknown, not from despair, but simply to enrich the unfathomable reservoirs of the Absurd!'
As soon as I had said these words, I turned sharply back on my tracks with the mad intoxication of puppies biting their tails, and suddenly there were two cyclists disapproving of me and tottering in front of me like two persuasive but contradictory reasons. Their stupid swaying got in my way. What a bore! Pouah! I stopped short, and in disgust hurled myself - vlan! - head over heels in a ditch.
Oh, maternal ditch, half full of muddy water! A factory gutter! I savored a mouthful of strengthening muck which recalled the black teat of my Sudanese nurse!
As I raised my body, mud-spattered and smelly, I felt the red hot poker of joy deliciously pierce my heart. A crowd of fishermen and gouty naturalists crowded terrified around this marvel. With patient and tentative care they raised high enormous grappling irons to fish up my car, like a vast shark that had run aground. It rose slowly leaving in the ditch, like scales, its heavy coachwork of good sense and its upholstery of comfort.
We thought it was dead, my good shark, but I woke it with a single caress of its powerful back, and it was revived running as fast as it could on its fins.
Then with my face covered in good factory mud, covered with metal scratches, useless sweat and celestial grime, amidst the complaint of staid fishermen and angry naturalists, we dictated our first will and testament to all the living men on earth.
MANIFESTO OF FUTURISM
- We want to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and rashness.
- The essential elements of our poetry will be courage, audacity and revolt.
- Literature has up to now magnified pensive immobility, ecstasy and slumber. We want to exalt movements of aggression, feverish sleeplessness, the double march, the perilous leap, the slap and the blow with the fist.
- We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing automobile with its bonnet adorned with great tubes like serpents with explosive breath ... a roaring motor car which seems to run on machine-gun fire, is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.
- We want to sing the man at the wheel, the ideal axis of which crosses the earth, itself hurled along its orbit.
- The poet must spend himself with warmth, glamour and prodigality to increase the enthusiastic fervor of the primordial elements.
- Beauty exists only in struggle. There is no masterpiece that has not an aggressive character. Poetry must be a violent assault on the forces of the unknown, to force them to bow before man.
- We are on the extreme promontory of the centuries! What is the use of looking behind at the moment when we must open the mysterious shutters of the impossible? Time and Space died yesterday. We are already living in the absolute, since we have already created eternal, omnipresent speed.
- We want to glorify war - the only cure for the world - militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of the anarchists, the beautiful ideas which kill, and contempt for woman.
- We want to demolish museums and libraries, fight morality, feminism and all opportunist and utilitarian cowardice.
- We will sing of the great crowds agitated by work, pleasure and revolt; the multi-colored and polyphonic surf of revolutions in modern capitals: the nocturnal vibration of the arsenals and the workshops beneath their violent electric moons: the gluttonous railway stations devouring smoking serpents; factories suspended from the clouds by the thread of their smoke; bridges with the leap of gymnasts flung across the diabolic cutlery of sunny rivers: adventurous steamers sniffing the horizon; great-breasted locomotives, puffing on the rails like enormous steel horses with long tubes for bridle, and the gliding flight of aeroplanes whose propeller sounds like the flapping of a flag and the applause of enthusiastic crowds.
It is in Italy that we are issuing this manifesto of ruinous and incendiary violence, by which we today are founding Futurism, because we want to deliver Italy from its gangrene of professors, archaeologists, tourist guides and antiquaries.
Italy has been too long the great second-hand market. We want to get rid of the innumerable museums which cover it with innumerable cemeteries.
Museums, cemeteries! Truly identical in their sinister juxtaposition of bodies that do not know each other. Public dormitories where you sleep side by side for ever with beings you hate or do not know. Reciprocal ferocity of the painters and sculptors who murder each other in the same museum with blows of line and color. To make a visit once a year, as one goes to see the graves of our dead once a year, that we could allow! We can even imagine placing flowers once a year at the feet of the Gioconda! But to take our sadness, our fragile courage and our anxiety to the museum every day, that we cannot admit! Do you want to poison yourselves? Do you want to rot?
What can you find in an old picture except the painful contortions of the artist trying to break uncrossable barriers which obstruct the full expression of his dream?
To admire an old picture is to pour our sensibility into a funeral urn instead of casting it forward with violent spurts of creation and action. Do you want to waste the best part of your strength in a useless admiration of the past, from which you will emerge exhausted, diminished, trampled on?
Indeed daily visits to museums, libraries and academies (those cemeteries of wasted effort, calvaries of crucified dreams, registers of false starts!) is for artists what prolonged supervision by the parents is for intelligent young men, drunk with their own talent and ambition.
For the dying, for invalids and for prisoners it may be all right. It is, perhaps, some sort of balm for their wounds, the admirable past, at a moment when the future is denied them. But we will have none of it, we, the young, strong and living Futurists!
Let the good incendiaries with charred fingers come! Here they are! Heap up the fire to the shelves of the libraries! Divert the canals to flood the cellars of the museums! Let the glorious canvases swim ashore! Take the picks and hammers! Undermine the foundation of venerable towns!
The oldest among us are not yet thirty years old: we have therefore at least ten years to accomplish our task. When we are forty let younger and stronger men than we throw us in the waste paper basket like useless manuscripts! They will come against us from afar, leaping on the light cadence of their first poems, clutching the air with their predatory fingers and sniffing at the gates of the academies the good scent of our decaying spirits, already promised to the catacombs of the libraries.
But we shall not be there. They will find us at last one winter's night in the depths of the country in a sad hangar echoing with the notes of the monotonous rain, crouched near our trembling aeroplanes, warming our hands at the wretched fire which our books of today will make when they flame gaily beneath the glittering flight of their pictures.
They will crowd around us, panting with anguish and disappointment, and exasperated by our proud indefatigable courage, will hurl themselves forward to kill us, with all the more hatred as their hearts will be drunk with love and admiration for us. And strong healthy Injustice will shine radiantly from their eyes. For art can only be violence, cruelty, injustice.
The oldest among us are not yet thirty, and yet we have already wasted treasures, treasures of strength, love, courage and keen will, hastily, deliriously, without thinking, with all our might, till we are out of breath.
Look at us! We are not out of breath, our hearts are not in the least tired. For they are nourished by fire, hatred and speed! Does this surprise you? it is because you do not even remember being alive! Standing on the world's summit, we launch once more our challenge to the stars!
Your objections? All right! I know them! Of course! We know just what our beautiful false intelligence affirms: `We are only the sum and the prolongation of our ancestors,' it says. Perhaps! All right! What does it matter? But we will not listen! Take care not to repeat those infamous words! Instead, lift up your head!
Standing on the world's summit we launch once again our insolent challenge to the stars!
—F. T. Marinetti, 1909
Did You Know?
- Ben'ito Mussolini's Fascist Party seized power in Italy, during the month of October, year 1922. He took power as initiative of the Futurism Movement and used the manifesto written by F. T. Marinetti as his political rally cry.
First Manifesto Tecnico
The Futurist Painting: Technical Manifesto of 1910
In 1910 painters Carra, Balla, Severini, painter/sculptor Boccioni, and composer/painter Russolo would write the second manifesto of the Futurism movement. Together they co-authored the "La Pittura Futurista, Manifesto Tecnico" (The Futurist Painting: Technical Manifesto); establishing the reason for the Futurist artistic movement, along with artistic guidelines and protocol for fellow comrades, to use as a how to guide in correlation to the movement's causes.
(In order to provide you an idea what the Futurism movement was about, an exact copy of the manifesto is featured next.)
La Pittura Futurista, Manifesto Tecnico (original title listed) —by Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Luigi Russolo, Giacomo Balla, Gino Severini
On the 18th of March, 1910 in the limelight of the Chiarella Theater of Turin, we launched our first manifesto to a public of three thousand people- artists, men of letters, students, and others; it was a violent and cynical cry which displayed our sense of rebellion, our deep-rooted disgust, our haughty contempt for vulgarity, for academic and pedantic mediocrity, for the fanatical worship of all that is old and worm-eaten.
We bound ourselves there and then to the movement of Futurist Poetry which was initiated a year earlier by F. T. Marinetti in the columns of the Figaro.
The battle of Turin has remained legendary. We exchanged almost as many knocks as we did ideas, in order to protect from certain death the genius of Italian Art.
And now during a temporary pause in this formidable struggle we come out of the crowd in order to expound with technical precision our program for the renovation of painting, of which Futurist Salon at Milan was a dazzling manifestation.
Our growing need of truth is no longer satisfied with Form and Color as they have been understood hitherto. The gesture which we would reproduce on canvas shall no longer be a fixed moment in universal dynamism. It shall simply be the dynamic sensation itself.
Indeed, all things move, all things run, all things are rapidly changing. A profile is never motionless before our eyes, but it constantly appears and disappears. On account of the persistence of an image upon the retina, moving objects constantly multiply themselves; their form changes like rapid vibrations, in their mad career. Thus a running horse has not four legs, but twenty, and their movements are triangular.
All is conventional in art. Nothing is absolute in painting. What was truth for the painters of yesterday is but a falsehood today. We declare, for instance, that a portrait must not be like the sitter, and that the painter carries in himself the landscapes which he would fix upon his canvas. To paint a human figure you must not paint it; you must render the whole of its surrounding atmosphere.
Space no longer exists: the street pavement, soaked by rain beneath the glare of electric lamps, becomes immensely deep and gapes to the very center of the earth. Thousands of miles divide us from the sun; yet the house in front of us fits into the solar disk.
Who can still believe in the opacity of bodies, since our sharpened and multiplied sensitiveness has already penetrated the obscure manifestations of the medium? Why should we forget in our creations the doubled power of our sight, capable of giving results analogous to those of the X-rays?
It will be sufficient to cite a few examples, chosen amongst thousands, to prove the truth of our arguments.
The sixteen people around you in a rolling motor bus are in turn and at the same time one, ten, four, three; they are motionless and they change places; they come and go, bound into the street, are suddenly swallowed up by the sunshine, then come back and sit before you, like persistent symbols of universal vibration.
How often have we not seen upon the cheek of the person with whom we are talking the horse which passes at the end of the street.
Our bodies penetrate the sofas upon which we sit, and the sofas penetrate our bodies. The motor bus rushes into the houses which it passes, and in their turn the houses throw themselves upon the motor bus and are blended with it.
The construction of pictures has hitherto been foolishly traditional. Painters have shown us the objects and the people placed before us. We shall henceforward put the spectator in the center of the picture.
As in every realm of the human mind, clear-sighted individual research has swept away the unchanging obscurities of dogma, so must the vivifying current of science soon deliver painting from academism.
We would at any price re-enter into life. Victorious science has nowadays disowned its past in order the better to serve the material needs of our time; we would that art, disowning its past, were able to serve at last the intellectual needs which are within us.
Our renovated consciousness does not permit us to look upon man as the center of universal life. The suffering of a man is of the same interest to us as the suffering of an electric lamp, which, with spasmodic starts, shrieks out the most heartrending expressions of color. The harmony of the lines and folds of modern dress works upon our sensitiveness with the same emotional and symbolical power as did the nude upon the sensitiveness of the old masters.
In order to conceive and understand the novel beauties of a Futurist picture, the soul must be purified; the eye must be freed from its veil of atavism and culture, so that it may at last look upon Nature and not upon the museum as the one and only standard.
As soon as ever this result has been obtained, it will be readily admitted that brown tints have never coursed beneath our skin; it will be discovered that yellow shines forth in our flesh, that red blazes, and that green, blue and violet dance upon it with untold charms, voluptuous and caressing.
How is it possible still to see the human face pink, now that our life, redoubled by noctambulism, has multiplied our perceptions as colorists? The human face is yellow, red, green, blue, violet. The pallor of a woman gazing in a jeweler’s window is more intensely iridescent than the prismatic fires of the jewels that fascinate her like a lark.
The time has passed for our sensations in painting to be whispered. We wish them in future to sing and re-echo upon our canvases in deafening and triumphant flourishes.
Your eyes, accustomed to semi-darkness, will soon open to more radiant visions of light. The shadows which we shall paint shall be more luminous than the high-lights of our predecessors, and our pictures, next to those of the museums, will shine like blinding daylight compared with deepest night.
We conclude that painting cannot exist today withc without Divisionism. This is no process that can be learned and applied at will. Divisionism, for the modern painter, must be an innate complementariness which we declare to be essential and necessary.
Our art will probably be accused of tormented and decadent cerebralism. But we shall merely answer that we are, on the contrary, the primitives of a new sensitiveness, multiplied hundredfold, and that our art is intoxicated with spontaneity and power.
- That all forms of imitation must be despised, all forms of originality glorified.
- That it is essential to rebel against the tyranny of the terms “harmony” and “good taste” as being too elastic expressions, by the help of which it is easy to demolish the works of Rembrandt, of Goya and of Rodin.
- That the art critics are useless or harmful.
- That all subjects previously used must be swept aside in order to express our whirling life of steel, of pride, of fever and of speed.
- That the name of “madman” with which it is attempted to gag all innovators should be looked upon as a title of honor.
- That innate complementariness is an absolute necessity in painting, just as free meter in poetry or polyphony in music.
- That universal dynamism must be rendered in painting as a dynamic sensation.
- That in the manner of rendering Nature the first essential is sincerity and purity.
- That movement and light destroy the materiality of bodies.
- Against the bituminous tints by which it is attempted to obtain the patina of time upon modern pictures.
- Against the superficial and elementary archaism founded upon flat tints, and which, by imitating the linear technique of the Egyptians, reduces painting to a powerless synthesis, both childish and grotesque.
- Against the false claims to belong to the future put forward by the secessionists and the independents, who have installed new academies no less trite and attached to routine than the preceding ones.
- Against the nude in painting, as nauseous and as tedious as adultery in literature.
We wish to explain this last point. Nothing is immoral in our eyes; it is the monotony of the nude against which we fight. We are told that the subject is nothing and that everything lies in the manner of treating it. That is agreed; we too, admit that. But this truism, unimpeachable and absolute fifty years ago, is no longer so today with regard to the nude, since artists obsessed with the desire to expose the bodies of their mistresses have transformed the Salons into arrays of unwholesome flesh!
- fascism: Definition from Answers.com
fascism n. often Fascism A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls,
- Futurism: Manifestos and Other Resources
The definitive site on the Futurist art movement of the early 20th Century, featuring most of the original manifestos of the members, and an extensive list of related links.
- Fortunato Depero\'s Italian Futurism - Forbes.com
The improbable career of Fortunato Depero, who vowed to change the universe and ended up changing advertising art.
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