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Saturday, 23 October 2010

Futurism: the representation of movement

Speed on canvas

Futurism was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century. The Futurists practiced in every medium of art, including painting, sculpture, ceramics, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, theatre, film, fashion, textiles, literature, music, architecture and even gastronomy. The founder of Futurism and its most influential personality was the Italian writer Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, who launched the movement in his Futurist Manifesto, which he published in the French daily newspaper Le Figaro on 20 February 1909. The Futurists admired speed, technology, the car, the airplane and the industrial city, all that represented the technological triumph of humanity over nature; they contrasted with the ancient art, too linked to the past, and then static, slow, to the new one that looked to the future, technology, machines and speed.

Giacomo Balla, an important futurist painter, starts from the realization of the movement seen as the sequence and repetition of the image and, for this reason, is closer to the techniques of photodynamic than to those of the other futurists. In a painting like Dinamismo di un cane al guinzaglio the splitting of the images depends on the “dynamic” effect of the photo, which is just the analytic study of the movement of the woman’s legs, of the dog’s tail and paws, and of the attempt to immortalize a fast movement into a fixed image. Even in the painting Le mani del violinista the dynamic effect consists in the representation of the fast movement of the violinist’s hands; the final result appears as a sequence of frames overlapped and partially staggered.  

Giacomo Balla, Dinamismo di un cane al guinzaglio,1912

Giacomo Balla, Le mani del violinista, 1912

Umberto Boccioni, another important artist, tried to translate into three dimensions his futurist ideas, especially through sculpture. In Forme uniche nella continuità dello spazio he wanted to transmit the expression of fluidity, dynamism and speed by the paradox of a statue, a fixed object.

Umberto Boccioni, Forme uniche nella continuità dello spazio, 1913

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