One of my favourite sculptures was created by Italian Futurist, Umberto Boccioni – Unique Forms of Continuity in Space: Some thoughts on Futurism
In terms of paintings, I have been more drawn to Gino Severini and to Carlo Carra, so when this painting appeared on one of the numerous sites I visit, I was more than a little interested:
Born in a southern Italian town in 1889, Boccioni moved to Rome and it was there at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma where he met Gino Severini. Their tutor was Giacomo Balla and the years of their tutorage coincided with some of the greatest moments in art.
Boccioni excelled in divisionism and the way in which he uses colour and light here is quite spectacular. The rhythm and movement of the crowd follows a circular motion with the brawl in the centre and the spectators rushing in, men and women, arms raised as they speed towards the commotion sparked by the fight between the two women in green and blue. The elegance of the clothing of the men and women in the scene is a sharp contrast to the violence of the scene.
When this was created, it was the early days of Futurism’s influence and this quote from Marinetti’s manifesto: “We shall sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and boldness… There is no more beauty except in strife” rings true in this work.
Shadows of the people play an important role in the vibrancy and movement, creating even more of a melee under the streaming electric lights. Technology was the driving force for the Futurists, and the use of electricity here adds a sense of shock that this type of event can be occurring in a place so modern, so refined as a Cafe in the centre of Milan.
From this point on, all art had no choice but to change with the times it was produced in and the artists of the Futurist movement embraced the change and led the charge into the new century.
“Art is viable when it finds elements in the surrounding environment. Our ancestors drew their subject matter from the religious attitudes which weighed on their souls. We must now learn to draw inspiration from the tangible miracles around us.”
For more on Boccioni: