Futurism was a modern art movement originating in Italy at the beginning of the 20th century.
In 1909, poet and editor, Fillipo Tommaso Marinetti, publisher of literary magazine Poesia (Milan), announced the movement of Futurism in a belligerent manifesto published on the front page of the Paris newspaper Le Figaro. The term ‘Futurism’ caught the imagination of writers and artists all over the world, as did Marinetti’s insistence that the artist turn his back on past art and conventional procedures to concern himself with the vital, noisy life of the burgeoning industrial city.
Futurism was a largely Italian and Russian movement, although it also had adherents in other countries.
Futurism was a celebration of the machine age, glorifying war and favouring the growth of fascism. Futurist painting and sculpture were especially concerned with expressing movement and the dynamics of natural and man-made forms.
Some of these ideas, including the use of modern materials and technique, were taken up later by Marcel Duchamp, the cubists, and the constructivists.
Unique Forms of Continuity in Space 1913 – Umberto Boccioni
The Futurists explored every medium of art, including painting, sculpture, poetry, theatre, music, architecture and even gastronomy. Marinetti summed up the major principles of the Futurists, including a passionate loathing of ideas from the past, especially political and artistic traditions. He and others also espoused a love of speed, technology, and violence. The car, the plane, the industrial town were all legendary for the Futurists, because they represented the technological triumph of people over nature.
Futurists 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.
In 1910 and 1911 the Futurist employed the technique of divisionism, breaking light and colour down into a field of stippled dots and stripes, which had been originally created by French painter Georges-Pierre Seurat. Severini, who lived in Paris, was the first to come into contact with Cubism and following a visit to Paris in 1911 the Futurist painters adopted the methods of the Cubists. Cubism offered them a means of analyzing energy in paintings and expressing dynamism.
Perspective drawing from La Citta Nuova, 1914 – Antonio Sant’Elia.
Futurism attracted a number of architects, one of them being, Antonio Sant’Elia, who joined forces with the Futurists in 1914. Though he built little throughout his life, Sant’Elia translated the Futurist vision into bold urban form.
Futurist architecture is characterized by anti-historicism and long horizontal lines suggesting speed, motion and urgency.
Cathedral of Brasília 1970 – Oscar Niemeyer
Oriental Pearl Tower 1991 – 1995 – Jia Huan Cheng
The Futurist principle of “dynamism” as an expressive means, the painters’ emphasis on process rather than on things, and their emphasis upon the intuition and its power to synthesize the manifold experiences of sense and memory had profound effects on other movements: the Constructivists and their various branches, the English Vorticists, Dada and Surrealism.
By the end of 1914, the first phase of Futurism was drawing to a close. With Italy’s entry into the war in 1915, an event ardently promoted by Marinetti and his fellows, all effective artistic activity ceased.