So today we are going to look at Futurism: style of art evolved out of the style of cubism in 1909.
Cubism: objects viewed from more than one vantage point simultaneously, and the flattening of the picture plane.
Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending the Staircase (1913) is a pivotal piece in the transition from Cubism to Futurism. At first glance the style fits with Analytical Cubism with the geometric forms, multiple viewpoints and monochromatic colours.Where Duchamp moves away from Cubism is that his work shows a subject in motion, not just form multiple viewpoints. He used a moving viewpoint to reveal dynamic action in a series of successive overlapping images.The Futurists glorified motion, speed and the mechanical age.
The Futurists adopted the visual vocabulary of Cubism to express their ideas - but with a slight twist. In a Cubist painting the artist records selected details of a subject as he moves around it, whereas in a Futurist painting the subject itself seems to move around the artist.
Futurism was an Italian movement, and some of the key aspect that we will cover in todays lecture are:Influenced by CubismSpeed, industrialisation, dynamismWar to cleanse the inequities of class socio-economic structureFuturism was inspired by the development of Cubism and went beyond its techniques. The Futurist painters made the rhythm of their repetitions of lines. Inspired by some photographic experiments, they were breaking motion into small sequences, and using the wide range of angles within a given time-frame all aimed at incorporat the dimension of time within the picture. Brilliant colours and flowing brush strokes also additionally were creating the illusion of movement. Notably, Futurism influenced many other 20th century art movements, including Art Deco, Vorticism, Constructivism and Surrealism.
Rarely in history was an art movement so bold and aggressive in the promotion of its idea. The focus of this new art style was the emerging technologies of the early 20th century. As I have already stated, it also focused on speed and violence. Its objective wasto capture the fast pace of modern society. It used the fragmentation and geometric shapes of cubism but also fragmented time and sequence. Futurists used rhythms as well as bright colours to give their images an added sense of motion. For them it was a celebration of man’s triumph with machines. Notably, many Futurists were Fascists and supported World War I as a “cleansing” of humanity. This attitude is also what caused the rapid decline of the art style (around 1914). When the realities of war and its brutality sunk in, many abandoned the futurist manifesto. This was ironic, considering the groups support of conflict and bloodshed.
On 20 February 1909, FilippoTommaso Marinetti's Futurist manifesto, "The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism" was published. Thanks to family connections, he managed to get it on the cover of Le Figaro, France's most respectable and conservative daily. Here began one of the most brilliant and disturbing episodes in 20th-century art, an extreme from which, it could be argued, most subsequent art has been in panicked retreat.The “Manifesto of Futurism,” proclaimed the burning desire of the author and his fellow Futurists to abandon the past and embrace the future. Tired of Italy’s reliance on its classical heritage and disdainful of the present, these artists called for a new aesthetic language based on industry, war, and the machine. In addition to their prolific output of drawings, photographs, films, performances, and paintings and sculptures, the Futurists published countless manifestos, leaflets, and art and poetry periodicals.
In several respects Futurism was unique among modern art movements. It was Italian. It originated in a view of civilisation and found expression first in words; rather than springing fro some dissatisfaction with inherited idioms of art and from an ambition to create a new idiom, it started with a general idea and found artistic expression only with difficulty. In some ways it was the most radical, noisily rejecting all traditions and time honoured institutions. It propagated its ideas very rapidly throughout Europe, from London to Moscow, and it was short lived.It chose its own name, unlike movements such as Fauvism and Cubism which were dubbed by antagonistic critics. And it went to great lengths to provide its on rationale in literary form: the modern tradition of artist’s manifestos stems primarily from here.
Before I proceed, first of all, what IS a manifesto more broadly? What form of writing is it? A dictionary definition of a manifesto would describe it as “a public declaration of policy and aims”. Immediately, then, we can see that a manifesto is much more than a political tract or document. It’s a statement of intent, or, as the dictionary notes, a PUBLIC DECLARATION. This is interesting, because it suggests that whilst it may have a specific audience that it is not merely something to be circulated amongst interested parties, but rather to a general public. The notion of a manifesto as a declaration is also worth noting, as it suggests that a manifesto is not designed simply to be read, or something which exists on paper, but as something to be performed or spoken in front of an audience. Manifestoes are generally anti-authority and are public, bold, defiant declarations.In this sense, and we’ll come back to this idea, again we could trace the origins of the manifesto from in the field of politics, as something akin to a political speech (both written and spoken), a declaration or set of principles. The form, language and structure of a manifesto, then, whatever its purpose, borrows heavily from the art of rhetoric and political oratory, which has classical origins. If we read early 20th century art manifestos we’ll see that the same styles and techniques are used in the delivery of language that we find in a speech at a political rally.
Marinetti summed up the major principles of the Futurists. He and others espoused a love of speed, technology and violence. Futurism was presented as a modernist movement celebrating the technological, future era. The car, the plane, the industrial town were representing motion in modern life and the technological triumph of man over nature.
When writing the first Futurist manifesto Marinetti had hesitated between calling the movement Dynamism or Electricity, alternatives that clearly suggest where his interests lay. He wanted the arts to demolish the past and celebrate the delights of speed and mechanical energy.The first Futurist Manifesto – there were several following this one – not only announced a new movement but started a new trend, effectively a new genre, an adventure in artistic expression
The introduction begins: “It is from Italy that we hurl at the whole world this utterly violent, inflammatory manifesto of ours, with which we today are founding ‘Futurism’, because we wish to free our country from the stinking canker of its professors, archaeologists, tour guides and antiquarians. For far too long Italy has been a marketplace for junk dealers. We want our country free from the endless number of museums that everywhere cover her ground like countless graveyards. Museums, graveyards! ... They’re the same things, really, because of their grim profusion of corpses that no-one remembers.”
Clearly, in this manifesto Marinetti laid out the blueprint for an avant-garde movement. He was deliberately provocative in his wholesale rejection of the past.He goes on to say…“…the splendor of the world has been increased by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car, its body ornamented by great pipes that resemble snakes with explosive breath…a screaming automobile that seems to run on grapeshot, is more beautiful than the Winged Victory of Samothrace…”
Perhaps the most memorable, controversial and antagonistic passage from the manifesto is in conclusion of paragraph nine:“We wish to glorify war – the sole cleanser of the world – militarism, patriotism, the destructive act of the libertarian, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for women.”If nothing else, this type of sensationalist language and expression ensured publicity - the Manifesto was immediately reproduced, quoted and distributed across Europe.As I already mentioned, the Futurist Manifesto was written not by an artist, but by F T Marinetti, a poet, novelist and playwright. Like Symbolism, Surrealism, Dada and Vorticism, Futurism was a literary movement as much as a visual art movement and exemplifies the way in which like-minded writers, artists, architects and musicians often joined forces for mutual benefit, to present a united front to the world, and to present themselves as an identifiable group before they or there works were categorised retrospectively by critics, the media or the public.
Futurists mixed activism and artistic research. They organized events that caused scandal. Everything was there to help them to glorify Italy and lead their country into the age of modernity. Certain Futurists vehemently promoted themselves to try to join forces with the Fascists, who were coming to power at the time.Futurism was a largely Italian movement, although it also had adherents in other countries, France and most notably Russia. After the First World War Marinetti formed a futurist political party that was quickly absorbed into the nascent Fascist movement. He remained an active Fascist for the lifespan of the movement, following Mussolini to his Nazi puppet state, the Republic of Salò. His attempts to make futurism into a state art never quite worked
Marinetti was a master of publicity, and his writings and dealings with the public and press set the tone for the controversies surrounding Futurism. The movement was defined by the manifestoes and books that he published, which were distributed in many languages. As well as art, Marinetti wanted to revolutionize writing itself. The pioneer futurists were true to their word about the glorification of war. Marinetti's 1913 sound poem "The Battle of Adrianopole", with its percussive effects and mimicking of shells and artillery exploding ("zangtumbtumb!"), was an incantation on the beauty of the Balkan wars. So when the First World War began, the futurists were ardent propagandists for Italian intervention.
Modern Idol, painted in 1911, is a faintly risible bit of post-impressionism, in which a bug-eyed woman in a flowery hat glares at the viewer, the dynamic intent expressed through shimmering brushstrokes rather than anything more extreme. Many early commentators were far more impressed by the ideas than by the end result of futurism, perhaps because of such works.The vehemence inMarinetti’s manifesto is in keeping with his impatience at Italy’s uncompleted national development, at the vast burden of grandiose tradition which pressed on Italian culture more inhibitingly than any other culture – Italy had contributed next to nothing to 19th century developments. The first decade of the century had seen Italy made aware, through new magazines and exhibitions, of Impressionism, Post-Impressionism of various sorts including early works of Matisse and Picasso, Symbolism, varieties of Art Nouveau etc. Marinetti and the Futurist considered that the only way forward as to propose a new view of the world that would supersede them all.
The Manifesto of the Futurist Painters: TO THE YOUNG ARTISTS OF ITALY! Was supervised by Marinetti.It demanded a new art for a new world and denounced every attachment to the arts of the past.“We are sickened by the foul laziness of artists, who, ever since the sixteenth century, have endlessly exploited the glories of the ancient Romans. In the eyes of other countries, Italy is still a land of the dead, a vast Pompeii, whit with sepulchres. But Italy is being reborn. Its political resurgence will be followed by a cultural resurgence.”
They go on to say:“Living art draws its life from the surrounding environment. Our forebears drew their artistic inspiration from a religious atmosphere which fed their souls; in the same way we must breathe in the tangible miracles of contemporary life—the iron network of speedy communications which envelops the earth, the transatlantic liners, the dreadnoughts, those marvelous flights which furrow our skies, the profound courage of our submarine navigators and the spasmodic struggle to conquer the unknown. How can we remain insensible to the frenetic life of our great cities and to the exciting new psychology of night-life; the feverish figures of the bon viveur, the cocette, the apache and the absinthe drinker?”
These are our final conclusions:With our enthusiastic adherence to Futurism, we will: Destroy the cult of the past, the obsession with the ancients, pedantry and academic formalism. Totally invalidate all kinds of imitation. Elevate all attempts at originality, however daring, however violent. Bear bravely and proudly the smear of “madness” with which they try to gag all innovators. Regard art critics as useless and dangerous. Rebel against the tyranny of words: “Harmony” and “good taste” and other loose expressions which can be used to destroy the works of Rembrandt, Goya, Rodin... Sweep the whole field of art clean of all themes and subjects which have been used in the past. Support and glory in our day-to-day world, a world which is going to be continually and splendidly transformed by victorious Science.The dead shall be buried in the earth’s deepest bowels! The threshold of the future will be swept free of mummies! Make room for youth, for violence, for daring!
It was to take some time before the Futurist painters to find the pictorial vehicle for their ideas. Indeed when Boccioni exhibited 42 works in Venice they were fairly well received by the critics but did not strike anyone as particularly revolutionary. There was a distinct gap between Boccioni’s bold words and his temperate pictures.
It was still the subject matter rather than the idiom of their work that was new. Whilst works like these are emphatically Futurist, they were presented in more or less traditional ways.A notable critic ArdengoSofficicriticised their work in the Florentine magazine La Voce, Marinetti, Carra, and Boccioni dealt with it in a violent way, they attacked Soffici as he sat outside a café.
Marinetti financed a trip for Boccioni, Russolo, and Carra to Paris where they met Picasso, Braque and others. When back in Milan they worked on re-orientating their efforts in accord with what they had learned, cubism in particular, which at that time was little known outside of Paris.To shape their art they drew upon new ideas of perception, experimental photography and multi-sensory responses, and the simultaneous interleaving of memory and experience. In parallel to the abstraction of form developed by the Cubists, the Futurists fragmented the body to show its active impact on its surroundings, through what they called 'lines of force'.
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 persistency 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.
GiacomoBalla ‘s Dog on a Leash is the closest Futurism ever came to imitating the photographic studies of Muybridge.
GiacomoBalla's Speed of a Motorcycle exemplifies the Futurists' insistence that the perceived world is in constant motion. These paintings illustrate light, speed and movement, which Balla sought to break down to their simplest forms while moving closer to total abstraction.
Boccioni’s most famous work is the sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, in which a turning body is distended into a fixed blur
What was Futurism offering to the world? Its basic views, amounting to an instance that growth and technology and concurrent developments in society and thought required expression in new, bold, art forms, were not unique but had never been presented so vehemently. Moreover here was an art movement that put idea before style, thus challenging not only the aesthetic ambitions of most avant garde art. Futurist paintings tested and proved the possibility of using art as a means of capturing non visual aspects of the environment recognised as dynamic rather than static.futurism's legacy, particularly in Italy, and the way that Italian futurism and the modern movement influenced architecture and official culture under Mussolini
One strategy as to how to approach this question:Modern art movements: A period dating from roughly the 1860s through the 1970s and describes the style and ideology of art produced during that eraAcademies: What are the academies and what did they signify? What was there relationship with such institutions? What were they reacting against?How did Modern art/artists discredit them? What motivated/provokes them?What were the parameters/conventions of art, how had they been established?What changes did this represent in society and culture?
Week 5 Futurism
“Standing on the World’s Summit”: Futurism’s becoming... Week 5 Deborah Jackson
FuturismThis style of art evolved out of the style of Cubism Picasso “I paint forms as I Les Demoiselles D’Avignon think them, not as I (1907) see them”
SHAPE and FORM Cubism Futurism• to show the „concept‟ of an object rather than creating a detail of the real thing• to show different views of an object at once, emphasizing time, space & the Machine age• to simplify objects to their most basic terms
Transition form Cubism to Futurism Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending the Staircase (1913) is a pivotal piece in the transition from Cubism to Futurism.
Transition form Cubism to FuturismThe Futurists adoptedthe visual vocabularyof Cubism to expresstheir ideas - but with aslight twist.In a Cubist paintingthe artist recordsselected details of asubject as he movesaround it, whereas ina Futurist painting the Giacomo Ballasubject itself seems to Flight of the Swallowsmove around the (1913)artist.
Futurism• Italian movement• Influenced by Cubism• Speed, industrialisation, dynamism• War to cleanse the inequities of class socio- economic structure Gerardo Dottori Burning City (1926)
Carlo CarraFuneral of the Anarchist Galli(1910-11)
Futurism came into beingwith the appearance of amanifesto published by thepoet Filippo Marinetti on thefront page of the February 20,1909, issue of Le Figaro.Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1876-1944)
FuturismFirst announced on Feb 20th 1909 Newspaper Le Figaropublished a manifesto by the Italian poet and editor TommasoMarinetti: We will fight with all our might the fanatical, senseless and snobbish religion of the past, a religion encouraged by the vicious existence of museums. We rebel against that spineless worshiping of old canvases, old statues and old bric-a-brac, against everything which is filthy and worm-ridden and corroded by time. We consider the habitual contempt for everything which is young, new and burning with life to be unjust and even criminal.To purposely intended to inspire public anger and amazement, toarouse controversy, and to attract widespread attention.
"We will destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind.” Umberto Boccioni A Futurist Evening in Milan (1911)
What IS a manifesto? A public declaration of policy and aims
Marinettisummed up themajorprinciples ofthe Futurists:• a love of speed,technology andviolence• the technologicaltriumph of manover natureEnrico PrampoliniPortrait of Marinetti(1925)
“It is from Italy that we hurl at the whole world thisutterly violent, inflammatory manifesto of ours,with which we today are founding „Futurism‟,because we wish to free our country from thestinking canker of its professors, archaeologists,tour guides and antiquarians. For far too long Italyhas been a marketplace for junk dealers. We wantour country free from the endless number ofmuseums that everywhere cover her ground likecountless graveyards. Museums, graveyards! ...They‟re the same things, really, because of theirgrim profusion of corpses that no-oneremembers.”
“…the splendor of theworld has been increasedby a new beauty: thebeauty of speed. A racingcar, its body ornamentedby great pipes thatresemble snakes withexplosive breath…ascreaming automobile thatseems to run ongrapeshot, is morebeautiful than the WingedVictory of Samothrace…”Winged Victory of Samothrace [thefamous Hellenistic sculpture in theLouvre]
“We wish to glorify war – the sole cleanser of the world – militarism, patriotism, the destructive act of the libertarian, beautiful ideasworth dying for, and scorn for women.” Marinetti, Manifesto of Futurism (1909)
Marinetti was a master ofpublicity, and his writingsand dealings with thepublic and press set thetone for the controversiessurrounding Futurism.The movement wasdefined by themanifestoes and booksthat he published, whichwere distributed in manylanguages. As well as art,Marinetti wanted torevolutionize writing itself.
Italy had contributednext to nothing to19th centurydevelopments. Thefirst decade of thecentury had seen Italymade aware, throughnew magazines andexhibitions, ofImpressionism, Post-Impressionism ofvarious sortsincluding early worksof Matisse andPicasso, Symbolism,varieties of ArtNouveau etc.
Manifesto of the Futurist PaintersUmberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Luigi Russolo, Giacomo Balla, Gino Severini TO THE YOUNG ARTISTS OF ITALY! “We are sickened by the foul laziness of artists, who, ever since the sixteenth century, have endlessly exploited the glories of the ancient Romans. In the eyes of other countries, Italy is still a land of the dead, a vast Pompeii, whit with sepulchres. But Italy is being reborn. Its political resurgence will be followed by aGino SeveriniThe Bear Dance (1913- cultural resurgence.”14)
A technologised savagery is palpable in most offuturisms artworks and proclamations. Technology is not so much used as worshipped or made anthropomorphic, as a kind of new deity. Luigi Russolo Dynamism of an Automobile (1912-13)
These are our final conclusions.With our enthusiastic adherence to Futurism, we will:• Destroy the cult of the past, the obsession with the ancients, pedantryand academic formalism.• Totally invalidate all kinds of imitation.• Elevate all attempts at originality, however daring, however violent.• Bear bravely and proudly the smear of “madness” with which they tryto gag all innovators.• Regard art critics as useless and dangerous.• Rebel against the tyranny of words: “Harmony” and “good taste” andother loose expressions which can be used to destroy the works ofRembrandt, Goya, Rodin...• Sweep the whole field of art clean of all themes and subjects whichhave been used in the past.• Support and glory in our day-to-day world, a world which is going to becontinually and splendidly transformed by victorious Science.The dead shall be buried in the earth‟s deepest bowels! The threshold ofthe future will be swept free of mummies! Make room for youth, forviolence, for daring!
Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting “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.”Umberto BoccioniDynamism of a cyclist(1913)
Indeed, all things move, all things run, all things are rapidly changing. Aprofile is never motionless before our eyes, but it constantly appearsand disappears. On account of the persistency of an image upon theretina, moving objects constantly multiply themselves; their formchanges like rapid vibrations, in their mad career. Thus a running horsehas not four legs, but twenty, and their movements are triangular .
Like in Da Vincis drawing Vitruvian Man, the possible alternative positions of the dogs and the ladys limbs are superimposed. This represents a break with the rules of classical European painting, which state that no part of a figure should be duplicated,Giacomo Balla unless its aDynamism of a Dog on a Leash mythical creature.(1912)
This work exemplifies the Futurists insistence that the perceived world is in constant motion. These paintings illustrate light, speed and movement, which Balla sought to break down to their simplest forms while moving closer to total abstraction.Giacomo BallaSpeed of a Motorcycle(1913)
Technical Manifesto of Futurist SculptureUmberto BoccioniUnique Forms of Continuityin Space(1913)
Manifesto of Futurist Women“Instead of putting men under theyoke of miserable, sentimentalneeds, drive your sons, your men, toexcel themselves. You create them.You can do everything with them.Youowe humanity heroes. Providethem!” Valentine de Saint- Point
Urban life was rapidlychanging and theyembraced this excitingvitality. Electric streetlighting andindustrialisation blurredthe distinction betweenday and night, while theexperience of lookingthrough the window of aspeeding train or cabrevealed new ways ofseeing the world.Umberto BoccioniForces of the street(1911)
HOW TO APPROACH THE QUESTION:Why were many modernist art movements motivatedby the principles of discrediting the academies andquestioning the parameters of art?• Modern art movements: A period dating from roughly the 1860s through the 1970s and describes the style and ideology of art produced during that era• Academies: What are the academies and what did they signify? What was there relationship with such institutions? What were they reacting against?• How did Modern art/artists discredit them? What motivated/provokes them?• What were the parameters/conventions of art, how had they been established?• What changes did this represent in society and culture?Don‟t forget to relate the question to specific artists and artworks!
NEXT WEEKRevolution and Rebuilding: Constructivism, De Stijl and the Bauhaus