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Carlo Carrà: From Movement to Mystery

Carlo Carrà - Funeral of the Anarchist Galli - 1911 - oil on canvas - 198.7 x 259.1 cm - MoMA, New York (click photo for larger image)Futurism was a modernist movement based in Italy celebrating the technological era. It was largely inspired by the development of Cubism. The core preoccupations of Futurist thought and art were machines and motion. The movement didn’t really catch on elsewhere, but its Italian practitioners did produce some amazing works of art. The movement died out with the onset of World War I.

Carlo Carrà (1881-1966)  studied painting briefly at the Brera Academy in  Milan, but he was largely self-taught.

In 1909, Carrà met the poet Filippo Marinetti and the artist Umberto Boccioni, who converted him to Futurism, which exalted patriotism, modern technology, dynamism, and speed. Carrà’s most famous painting (featured here), The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli, embodies Futurist ideals with its portrayal of dynamic action, power, and violence. It includes abstract-representations of humans and horses baring black banners. A red casket is carried at the center beneath a shining sun.

In this painting Carlo Carrà commemorates the death of Angelo Galli during a strike in Milan and the subsequent funerary parade to the cemetery, which erupted into violence between anarchists and the police. Carrà lived in Milan and was involved with anarchist groups; he was at the funeral and recalled the event in his memoirs La mia vita (1945).

Carrà became one of the founders of Metaphysical painting, along with artist Giorgio de Chirico. These artists often used very realistic but incongruous imagery that viewers would find disquieting.

In 1918 Carrà broke with de Chirico and Metaphysical painting Throughout the 1920s and ’30s, he painted figurative works based on the monumental realism of the 15th-century Italian painter, Massaccio. Through these works and his many years of teaching at the Milan Academy, Carrà greatly influenced the course of Italian art between the World Wars.

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