Futurism was an artistic and social movement that swept Europe in the early twentieth century. Principles of Futurism were embraced in all forms of art, from painting, design, fashion, and literature. Futurism has had a legacy that encouraged a number of art forms, including Art Deco and Constructivism.
Futurism was born in Italy in 1909. The movement was primarily developed by poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. It was launched by the Manifesto of Futurism, which inspired heated debate across Europe. Futurism painting was born from this manifesto as artists took up Marinetti’s believes.
The time at which the manifesto was published is key to the origins of Futurism. While the manifesto was published in 1908, It took some time for Futurism to gain popularity leading up to the First World War. The rising tide of nationalism and a rejection of Italy’s past were two of the main driving forces for the movement.
There was a dip in popularity of Futurist art during the time that the First World War was waging, mostly due to the political divides present across Europe. After the First World War, the Futurism movement had a resurgence. The second resurgence of this movement occurred when the troops returned home. This was somewhat due to the connection between Futurism and nationalism in Europe during this time.
There were a number of artists that gained prominence in the Futurist movement. Italian artists include Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carra, and Luigi Russolo. These were some of the first visual artists to expand the movement beyond Marinetti’s work in literature and poetry. Boccioni, Carra, and Russolo wrote the Manifesto of Futurist Painters. This work served as a response to Marinetti’s manifesto and a call for visual artists to join the movement.
This second manifesto was then sent to Giacomo Balla and Gino Severini, who joined their fellow artists. These five artists formed the main group of Futurist painters in Italy. As the movement spread from Italy into other parts of Europe, artists in other nations began producing paintings in the style. French artist Valentine de Saint-Point is one example of the movement’s rise in Europe.
Italian vs. Russian Futurism
The ideas of the original Italian Futurist movement spread across Europe, influencing artists across the continent. The movement spread as far as the UK and Russia, with a few artists even appearing as far as America. Futurism took particular hold in Russia, although this is typically considered a separate movement.
Much like Italian Futurism, Russian Futurism began as a revolt against the symbolist revolt in the Russain Republic. The movement in Russia further divided into two groups: Cubo-Futurism and Ego-Futurism. The two groups were divided mainly by the philosophy that differentiated them. The Cubo-Futurism movement called for a broadening of language and included a number of poets in its action.
Ego-Futurism, on the other hand, was more concerned with the exploration of the “self,” regardless of the formal rules of the method.
Futurism emphasized a number of topics associated with industrialization, including technology, automobiles, and the advancement of cities. Rejection of the past and violence were also major themes. The goal of the Futurist movement was to move away from the influence of past generations, both artistically and socially. Elements of both the Neo-Impressionist and Cubist movements were included in Futurist art, to display the modality and energy of modern life.
Futurist paintings are typically dynamic and vibrant, often depicting scenes in motion. Painters achieved this by adopted the Cubist technique of using intersecting planes. This technique allowed multiple sides of the subject to be viewed at once, a characteristic present in many Futurist paintings.
One example of this is Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash by Giacomo Balla. The work depicts a woman walking a dachshund, with both their legs blurred and multiplied to give the appearance of motion. This is considered one of Balla’s greatest works, and one that is key to the movement as a whole.
The futurist movement was highly influential in the Precisionism, Rayonism, and Vorticism movements. It was also somewhat influential in the Art Deco, Dada, and Constructivism movements. The sheer number of movements that Futurism inspired is proof of the style’s impact on the visual arts.
Vorticism was the British response to Futurism. Despite the deep hostility between the two movements, the two share a number of characteristics in common. Vorticism drew on the Futurist need to capture motion but did so using other visual techniques. The movement proved to be shortlived but played a part in inspiring styles that came after it.
Futurism was a style that impacted all forms of art, from the visual arts to music and literature. The impacts of Futurism continued to be felt for decades, and can still be seen to this day. Viewers continue to travel to see Futurist art in museums across the globe.