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Entries in Futurism (6)


Gino Severini: Futurism, Cubism and Pure Abstraction

Gino Severini - Dancer = Propeller = Sea - 1915 - Oil on canvas - 29 5/8 x 30 3/4 in. (75.2 x 78.1 cm) - Metropolitan Museum of New York, New York (click photo for larger image)Italian artist Gino Severini (1883-1966) is often labeled as a Cubist/Futurist painter because he found a unique way of synthesizing the styles of Cubism and Futurism. His teacher was future fellow futurist Giacomo Balla. The Futurists wanted to revitalize Italian art (and, as a consequence, all of Italian culture) by depicting the speed and dynamism of modern life. Severini shared this artistic interest, but his work did not contain the political overtones typical of Futurism. The group, as a whole, hoped to revitalize all of Italian culture through its art by glorifying war and mechanized power. This was not Severini’s objective.

“Like other artists associated with Italian Futurism, Severini was fascinated by the interactions of movement and matter and the dynamic speeds of the modern world. In his manifesto ‘Plastic Analogies of Dynamism’ (1913–14), written just before [the work featured here] was painted, he describes the sensory and visual ‘analogies’ that resonate across seemingly unrelated objects, from a dancing girl to a rushing express train to abstract forms.” (Metropolitan Museum of Art) 

In around 1916, Severini embraced a more rigorous and formal approach to composition; instead of deconstructing forms, he wanted to bring geometric order to his paintings. His works from this period were usually still-lifes executed in a Synthetic Cubist manner

To learn more about Severini, Futurism, and Cubism, take What About Art? founder Dr. Jill Kiefer’s class on Modern Movements, beginning Saturday May 1st at the Bethany Arts Community. You can learn more and register HERE.


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.


Futurism: A Surging Incoherence of Forms

Umberto Boccioni Street Noises Invade the House - 1911 - 100 x 107 cm (39 1/4 x 42 in) - Sprengel Museum - Hannover - Germany (click photo for larger image)Interest in—and appreciation of—machinery was clearly in the air in the early decades of the 20th century. For a group of young Italian artists, the progress offered by machinery epitomized their increasing fascination with dynamic speed and motion. Though they translated this idea of progress into a frenetic exultation of the glory of war and the destruction of museums, their visual understanding of motion remained exciting. The Italian Futurists—like the members of Die Brücke in Germany—aimed to free art from all its historical restraints and celebrate the new beauty of the modern age. Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916) and other of his contemporaries wanted to express the onrush of events in the world with pictures of motion, dynamism, and power. In the work featured here, Boccioni attempts to provide this sensation and succeeds remarkably well. Noise becomes something seen, something literally invasive of privacy. Boccioni said of the painting, “…all life and the noises of the street rush in at the same time as the movement and the reality of the objects outside.” The surging incoherence of the forms is both chaotic and ordered—a true mark of Futurism, as a movement.


Carlo Carrà: Futurist

Carlo Carrà - Jolts of a Cab - 1911 - Oil on canvas - 20 5/8 x 26 1/2" (52.3 x 67.1 cm) - Gift of Herbert and Nannette Rothschild - Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) - New YorkCarlo Carrà (1881-1966) was an Italian painter, critic and writer who was a prominent figure in the early 20th century movement of Futurism. His own words reveal a great deal about the character of his day.

“But that was the Golden Age of modern art. We were still a small group of pioneers, the Paris Cubists and Fauvists, the Italian Futurists, the London Vorticists, the Blue Rider group in Munich, the Expressionists in Berlin and Dresden, Larionov and his friends in Russia. Nationalism was quite unknown to us, and we were all friends, each ready to recommend the others to the few gallery owners, collectors and critics likely to be interested in our work.

"After the First World War, we found ourselves committed in each country to an absurd patriotism. It had become unpatriotic for a Paris painter, even if he were foreign-born, to know anything about contemporary German art or to praise an Italian artist. Overnight, Picasso seemed to have forgotten all about Kandinsky, Chagall behaved as if he had never heard of Larionov, and only a few personal friends of mine in Paris could remember any of my pictures.”

Carlo Carrà, 1959, quoted by Edouard Roditi


Gino Severini - A Modern Synthesizer

Gino Severini - Italian, Festival in Montmartre, 1913, Oil on canvas - 35 x 45 3/4 in. (88.9 x 116.2 cm) - Bequest of Richard S. Zeisler, 2007.281, Art Institute of Chicago (click photo for larger image)Gino Severini was an Italian Cubist/Futurist Painter, 1883-1966, who synthesized the styles of Cubism and Futurism. Futurism refers to a modern art movement originating among Italian artists in 1909. The movement lasted until the end of World War I--but only caught real hold in Italy. The Futurists hoped to wrench Italy from what they saw as her languid, retrospective dream of an antique and Renaissance past into the shrill, dynamic realities of the industrial present. To accomplish this aim, they needed to develop a style as aggressive and contemporary as their new urban environment. Thus, futurism was a celebration of the machine age, glorifying war and favoring the growth of fascism. Futurist painting and sculpture were especially concerned with expressing movement and the dynamics of natural and man-made forms. Some of these ideas, including the use of modern materials and techniques, were taken up later by Marcel Duchamp (French, 1887-1968), as well as by the Cubists, and the Constructivists.