Inspired by the technological innovations of their time, the Italian Futurists celebrated speed. They took the locomotive and airplane as their models, striving to capture the dynamism of these engines in their art -- to create syntheses of matter and energy... [more]
Inspired by the technological innovations of their time, the Italian Futurists celebrated speed. They took the locomotive and airplane as their models, striving to capture the dynamism of these engines in their art -- to create syntheses of matter and energy that would effuse power and strength. The interface of humans with machines, and the potential this interface promised, was their constantly reiterated theme.
The static, stuffy feeling of classical and bourgeois art made the Futurists impatient -- they extolled an aesthetic of violence and war, revolution and destruction. The poet Marinetti articulated this view in a series of manifestos that decried tradition and called for the destruction of libraries, museums, and academies. Marinetti merged bombast with theoretical pretense, and precise technique with the promulgation of propaganda. His Futurism addressed the political and cultural decline of Italy through an anarchist approach to art.
When Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carra, Luigi Russolo, Gino Severini, and Giacomo Balla joined forces with him, the movement refined its aesthetic stance. They emphasizes the unity of subject and environment, the power of mutations and metamorphoses. The Futurists rejected harmony, tonal painting, the nude figure, art critics - in short, everything traditional. Like most Modernists, they wanted to draw the spectator into the work both physically and emotionally.
Stylistically the Futurists cannibalized everything that had preceded them: Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, and Cubism. Picasso and Braque are evident everywhere in their work -- but where the Cubists created disjointed aggregates by multiplying perspectives, the Futurists made their multpicity move; they integrated while the Cubists broke everything down. Perhaps Boccioni was the best example of this: his paintings and sculptures twisted together lines and planes to aggressively penetrate, stir, and warp the surrounding space.
As World War I approached, the Futurists were drawn more than ever into propaganda: their art began to depict armies, weaponry, and mechanized warfare. But Italy's will to power, as expressed both in its war effort and in Futurism, had disastrous consequences. Fascism took root in the devastated post-war terrain, appropriating the Futurists - slogans and posterboards to support a renewed drive towards an imperialist modernity. The Futurists' legacy, however, continued to make itself felt in the world of art, contributing to Constructivist sculpture, dada and Surrealist assemblage, and some of the Pop sculpture of the 1960s. [show less]
There is something for everyone in this episode of Tosh Talks. Are you a brooding modernist in early 1900's Italy? Try Futurism. Are you trying to start your own avant-garde art movement? Andre Breton can show you how. Interested in collage and pop music? Peter Blake is your ...