Futurism

In the ever-changing world of art; through the rejection and destruction of older forms of culture come new concepts, perspectives, ideals, and ideas that become formed. The Futuristic art movement is one of these formations. Futurism was a 20th-century movement that excluded the traditional styles and the desire for modernity. This movement was a celebration of technology, power, and modern life and was an attempt to demonstrate the beauty of the machine, speed, violence, and change.

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Futurism and Fascism

Futurism was closely related to the larger social and political crisis in Italy, both before and during the war. It played a significant role in the dissemination and support of the central values and ideology from which proto-fascist sentiments were constructed. Mussolini adopted many ideas and influences of Marinetti’s innovations in his performances and public speeches. Nationalism, militarism, irrational violence, and a general aestheticization of violence appeared in both the Futurists and Fascists propaganda. The narrative form of a Manifesto has been used before by the artists, but the members of Futurism used it as a political weapon. The founder of Futurism Marinetti was a political figure himself and before the end of the war Marinetti founded the Futurist Political Party. This placed the entire Futurism movement at the forefront of the support for Mussolini and the idea of a unified Italy.

Important Art and Artist of Futurism

The City Rises (1910)

Artist: Umberto Boccioni

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This painting depicts the construction of Milan’s new electrical power plant. In the center of the frame, a large red horse surges forward, as three men, their muscles straining, try to guide and control it. In the background other horses and workers can be seen. The blurred central figures of the men and horse, depicted in vibrant primary colors, become the focal point of the frenzied movement that surrounds them, suggesting change is born from chaos and that everyone, including the viewer, is caught up in the transformation.

Funeral of the Anarchist Galli (1910-11)

Artist: Carlo Carrà

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This painting commemorates the funeral of Galli, an anarchist killed during strike action. Hundreds, including women and children, attended his funeral procession, which was led by a cohort of anarchists. The painting captures the moment that police mounted on horseback attacked the procession.

Dancer at Pigalle (1912)

Artist: Gino Severini

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The dancer, depicted in the middle of the painting is composed of a dynamic intersection of lines and swirling fabric. Four beams of stage lighting focus inwards on her, highlighting her as the center of the image whilst, in contrast, her rapid, rotational movements radiate out in concentric circles to the edges of the pictorial plane. Each of these circular layers contains fragmentary images of musicians, instruments, viewers, and shapes evoking musical notes, capturing an essence of the space in which she performs.

Città Nuova (New City) (1914)

Artist: Antonio Sant’Elia

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This image is part of Sant’Elia’s design for a new city and this reflects the architect’s ideas of modernity.

He expressed these in The Manifesto of Futurist Architecture in 1914, writing that “We must invent and rebuild our Futurist city like an immense and tumultuous shipyard, active, mobile, and everywhere dynamic, and the Futurist house like a gigantic machine”.

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