Futurism was considered a social, and artistic movement in the early twentieth century that started in Italy and expanded to other countries. It is organized around the different theoretical manifestos in every field that defines its characteristics, including politics and art.
It was more than just innovations in literary or figurative; it was a new lifestyle controlled by the Florentine magazines and D’Annunzio’s legacy. It is a movement where the present, as well as the bourgeois society, were rejected.
Conversely, aggression, machine, technology, speed, youth, car, airplane, and big industry were exalted. Meanwhile, although Futurism was mostly an Italian phenomenon, Russia had some parallel movements as well as other countries.
Futurism influenced the art movements like Constructivism, Art Deco, Dada, and Surrealism to a certain extent. It also affected Precisionism, Vorticism, and Rayonism to a greater degree and can represent an attitude or opposing trend.
The History of Futurism in Italy
Futurism originated from Milan, Italy, in 1909; it is a movement started by the Italian poet, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. He launched the movement in his poem, Manifesto of Futurism, which he published on 5 February 1909 for the first time.
He published it in the article La Gazzetta dell’Emilia, which was then reproduced in Le Figaro, a French daily newspaper. Soon enough, other prominent people joined Marinetti, including painters Umberto Boccioni, Gino Severini, Carlo Carra, and painter Luigi Russolo.
In the movement, Marinetti expressed his lathing for everything old, especially artistic and political tradition. The founding Futurism manifesto had no positive artistic programme, although the Futurists tried to create it subsequently in the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting.
As such, they were committed to a universal dynamism that was to be directly represented in painting. Meanwhile, the Futurist painters were not fast enough when it came to developing a unique style and subject matter.
They broke light and color down using the techniques of Divisionism in 1910 and 1911 into stippled stripes and dots. Later, Severini posited that their backwardness in style had to do with their distance from Paris, the center of avant-garde art.
Cubism was a big influence in the formation of Italian Futurism, and Severini was the first to encounter Cubism. He then offered the Futurist painters a means of analyzing energy in paintings, thus expressing dynamism.
The Italian Futurists held their first exhibition in 1912 outside Italy in Paris at the Bernheim-Jeune gallery. The exhibition featured works created by Gino Severini, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carra, Giacomo Balla, and Luigi Russolo.
The Characteristics of the Main Manifesto of Futurism
The main manifesto of Futurism published in Le Figaro by Filippo Tommaso Martinetti laid the foundation for its development. In this movement, the poet celebrated action, virility, war, and violent taste, and despised women and feminism. One could say that the futurists are more modern than D’Annunzio and the crepuscular poets of the twentieth century.
That is mostly because D’Annunzio and co. did not employ escape from reality to resolve the artist’s relationship with the modern world. Instead, they dwelt more on speed, industrialization, metropolis, and aggression.
New ethics is connected with the acceptance of modern society; this was purely based on competitiveness and aggression. Meanwhile, the cultural and literary attitudes of Futurism represent an ideological cover for the capitalist industrialism mechanism.
Also, the Futurists will become leaders, first among the interventionists, and then among the Fascists. More so, their aggressive attitude will no longer only refer to their literary production; it will also refer to their political positions.
Meanwhile, their poetics featured all the criticism of the previous art. They published the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Literature, which expressed the destruction of syntax, and use of infinitive verbs, among other things.
It also employed the abolition of punctuation and the qualifying adjective, proposing free spelling and typography to bring the Futurism concept to life. They achieve a continuous flow of emotions and sensations through the absolute freedom of analogies or images.
The Introduction of Bold Formal Experimentalism
The first Futurists were eventually joined by Govoni, Folgore, Papini, and Palazzeschi; they introduced the concept of bold formal experimentalism. However, the first notable creative results of the Futurist movement were expressed in figurative arts, starting with Boccioni’s creation.
Boccioni and other painters elaborate, in 1910, the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting, affirming the need to also express dynamic sensation in painting. Then, in 1912 and 1912, Boccioni used sculpture to translate his Futurist ideas into three dimensions.
In 1913, he published Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, where he tried to realize the relationship between objects and the environment. This was central to his theory of dynamism as the sculpture, posthumously cast in bronze, represents a striding figure. His ideas, including Speeding Muscles, Synthesis of Human Dynamism, and Spiral Expansion of Speeding Muscles were published in the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Sculpture.
Boccioni said that after making twenty pictures where he studied automobiles’ velocity. In it, he saw how the single plan of the canvas did not permit the idea of the dynamic volume of speed in depth. Thus, he constructed the first dynamic plastic complex using cloth and tissue paper, iron wires, and cardboard planes, among other things.
Futurism in Politics
From the start, Futurism had been intensely patriotic and strongly admired violence. For instance, the Futurist Manifesto declared that they will glorify war, militarism, patriotism, and the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers.
To them, war was the only hygiene for the world, while women and beautiful ideas worth dying for were despised. Meanwhile, while Futurism owed much of its ideas’ character to radical political movements; it only became involved in politics in 1913.
Conclusion: The End and Revival of Italian Futurism
In the year of Giolitti’s re-election, Marinetti published a political manifesto, and in 1914, Futurists actively campaigned against the Austro-Hungarian empire. Italy entered the First World War in 1914, for which many Futurists enlisted, especially Marinetti, who fought at Italy’s border. This war outbreak inherently disguised the fact that Italian Futurism had ended. By the end of 1914, the Florence group formally acknowledged their withdrawal from the movement.
Meanwhile, Boccioni was killed in 1916, having produced only one war picture. However, Marinetti revived the movement after the war, revival writers in the 1960s called il secondo Futurismo, meaning Second Futurism.