Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Futurist Centennial

Umberto Boccioni, "Forme uniche della continuità nello spazio" (Unique forms of continuity in space, 1913, cast in 1931). Photo taken 25 July 2009.

One of my favorite sculptures, on permanent exhibit at MOMA, my favorite art museum, to which I feel compelled to make a pilgrimage every time I'm in NY. This year BTW is the centennial of Futurism, launched officially by the Italian writer Filippo Tommaso Marinetti with publication of his "Futurist Manifesto" on 5 February 1909 in La gazzetta dell'Emilia. A French version was subsequently published in the Paris newspaper Le Figaro on 20 February 1909 (an English translation of "The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism" by F. T. Marinetti can be found here). Of course it's mostly rubbish, but poetic rubbish, which has some merit—and within scarcely more than a decade the movement produced a body of truly compelling visual art (Futurism died "officially" with Marinetti in 1944, but in Italy it had petered out well before then). Marinetti and other Futurists also associated themselves early with Fascism, and with Musollini, but the relationship was complicated, and there were leftist and anti-Fascist adherents. There was also a strong Futurist movement in Russia, but it didn't survive much beyond the Revolution of 1917. Boccioni himself checked out in WW I, on 17 August 1916, at age 34—thrown from his horse and trampled during a cavalry training exercise (another tragic waste in an idiotic war).
If you don't know about Futurism and the Futurists, you could start by checking out the Wiki entry; (there is also an entry for "Unique forms of continuity in space"—no, I didn't know its image now graces the obverse of the Italian 20 cent euro coin). A good web resource with links to writings by and about the Futurists, and a plethora of additional info and images, can be found here. An excellent Italian resource with a multitude of links to current events, exhibitions, and scholarship on Futurism is here. Of course you can also see a number of great Futurist works in the MOMA collection any time you're in NY; or, if you're going to be in London in the next couple of weeks, check out the centenary Futurist exhibit at the Tate Modern before it ends on 20 September (Tate Modern has its own copy of this Boccioni work, cast in 1972, and a number of other works; unique pieces on loan from other collections are also featured). I could almost go myself; London isn't that far away from Copenhagen, and flights are pretty cheap.

2 Comments:

Blogger William Wren said...

this is great. i havent seen this before

August 26, 2009 at 7:47 AM  
Blogger Steven Levery said...

Thanks very much! Anyone still reading this (who knows?) in the San Francisco area might note that there's a series of commemorative events planned by SFMOMA's Performa 09 for 14-18 October 2009, "to weigh the legacies of Italian Futurism — one of the seminal and most controversial avant-garde art movements of the twentieth century."

http://www.sfmoma.org/events/series/1314

There's a related piece and interesting discussion thread over at the SFMOMA "Open Space" blog entitled "Why I won’t celebrate Futurism’s anniversary", posted on August 12, 2009 by Julian Myers

http://blog.sfmoma.org/2009/08/12/why-i-wont-celebrate-futurisms-anniversary/

(Sorry I don't know how to embed the links within my comment.)

September 3, 2009 at 9:41 AM  

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