Natalia Goncharova, Cyclist, 1913

Futurism was a movement, begun largely in Italy, that concerned its self with the promotion of all things new and took speed, technology and modernity as its inspiration.

 It tried to portray a dynamic aspect to the character of the 20th century. It glorified war and the machine age and even favoured the growth of Fascism. It rejoiced in the arrival of the 1st world war & was violently opposed to anything from the past. (1)
 The multiple outlines of elements in this painting by Natalia Goncharova is a great example of showing movement & 3 dimensionality in a 2D painting.
The movement began in 1909 when the poet Filippo Marinetti published his Futurist Manifesto in a French newspaper. He expressed a passionate loathing of everything old, especially political and artistic tradition. “We want no part of it, the past”, he wrote, “we the young and strong Futurists!” The Futurists admired speed, technology, youth and violence, the car, the airplane and the industrial city, all that represented the technological triumph of humanity over nature, and they were passionate nationalists. They repudiated the cult of the past and all imitation, praised originality, “however daring, however violent”, bore proudly “the smear of madness”, dismissed art critics as useless, rebelled against harmony and good taste, swept away all the themes and subjects of all previous art, and gloried in science. (2)
Key Figures.
The Futurists practiced in every medium of art including painting, sculpture, ceramics, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, urban design, theatre, film, fashion, textiles, literature, music, architecture, and even gastronomy. Some of its key figures were the Italians Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni, Antonio Sant’Elia, and the russian Vladimir Mayakovsky.

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, an Itallian/French author & poet is responsible for writing the first Futurist Manifesto and printing it in the French newspaper Le Figaro, it’s self a statement on the use of modern tools to convey their message. After a minor car accident in 1908 Marinetti declared to his associates that they should end every artistic relationship with the past, “destroy the museums, the libraries, every type of academy”. He was a strong voice for the involvement of Italy in the Great War and, once joined, signed up for service.

Umberto Boccioni, 1913, Synthesis of Human Dynamism, sculpture destroyed

Umberto Boccioni, who died in a training exercise in 1016 at the age of just 33, was an influential voice for the Futurist movement. He wrote 2 manifestos for the group & produced a prolific amount of work in medium such as painting & sculpture.

His Futurist driven sculptures such as the work “Synthesis of Human Dynamism” shows, I think, an incredible detail in movement.

The work that is perhaps considered his masterpiece was sculpted in wax & only cast in bronze in 1931 and in 1998 was chosen for use on the reverse of the Italian 20 cent coin.

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, 1913, on the Italian 20 cent coin.
House with external elevators (1914)

Antonio Sant’Elia was an itallian builder & architect and was a key figure in the Futurist

movement. He was killed in the 1st world war at the young age of 28 & left nearly no completed works. However, his influential designs which featured vast monolithic skyscraper buildings with terraces, bridges and aerial walkways that embodied the sheer excitement of modern architecture and technology inspired designers, artists & architects around the world. In his 1927 movie Metropolis, Fritz Lang created scenes that could have come directly out of Sant’Elia’s sketch book. More recently Ridley Scott took inspiration from him in his movie Blade Runner.

 Influence of Futurism.
Although the impact of Italian Futurism was concentrated in the visual arts, it did inspire artists in other media: Vladimir Mayakovsky was important in developing a Futurist literature in Russia, and film makers such as Ridley Scott & Fritz Lang used it’s inspiration for their work.
Its influences can be seen in other styles such as the modern machine look in Art Deco & the modern style of animation in Anime & Manga.
Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.
Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.

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