We explain what futurism is and its characteristics in literature, painting and other arts. In addition, its main representatives.

futurism painting umberto boccioni
Futurism creates rhythms through shapes, colors and repetitions.

What is futurism?

futurism was an art movement founded in the early 20th century in Italy, which was part of the currents of the artistic avant-garde and whose distinctive feature was that exalted the new features of modern society: speed, energy, dynamism and machines.

The founder of Futurism was Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. (1876-1944), who was an Italian poet, painter, playwright, and publisher. He is also considered one of the ideologues of Italian fascism, which took shape in the figure of the dictator Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) at the end of the 1920s. In fact, in the futurist aesthetics, nationalism, misogyny and militarism, central to fascist ideology.

The founding act of Futurism was the publication of the futurist manifesto in 1909 in the newspaper le figaro of France, a gesture that set a trend among avant-garde artistic movements.

In that text, Marinetti exalted violence (“there is no beauty except in struggle”) as values ​​of the movement, war (“the only hygiene in the world”) and aesthetic irreverence (“a roaring car that seems to run over shrapnel It is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace”).

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Characteristics of Futurism

The futurist movement was characterized by the following:

  • It was a mainly pictorial and poetic movementalthough he also dabbled in sculpture, photography and theater.
  • In general, his artistic works they tried to reproduce and exalt the speed of modern timesincorporating a lot of movement, a lot of energy and strength, when not successions of images in the style of a kaleidoscope or a movie.
  • His Followers they fervently pursued originalityand tried to capture the characteristic aspects of the contemporary world: cities, automobiles, machines, sports, war, bustle, etc.
  • He broke with the Italian tradition and with the conventional signs of the history of art., trying to become an “irreverent slap” to the institutions. In his manifesto, Marinetti called to “destroy museums, libraries, various academies” but also to “combat moralism, feminism and all other opportunistic and utilitarian cowardice.”
  • It was the first artistic movement to be organized as such.. In fact, his manifesto set a precedent that was later imitated by other movements of the European avant-garde, such as surrealism.
  • It was an eminently Italian movementbut he also had followers in other countries, such as Russia, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, and even on the other side of the Atlantic in Argentina and Uruguay.
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futurist literature

futurism literature Filippo Tommaso Marinetti
Futurist literature cultivated genres out of the ordinary.

Futurist literature shared many of the fundamental features of the movement, such as its passionate, aggressive, controversial rhetoric, and its guidelines were expressed in the literary manifesto of Futurism, under the title “Destruction of Syntax-Wireless Imagination-Words in Freedom”, published in 1913.

Some of the characteristics of futurist literature were:

  • Poetry predominated, but also dramaturgy it mattered. The latter was known as “synthetic theater” and was characterized by its plots lasting no more than 10 minutes.
  • The use of fast language, which conveyed the speed of the contemporary world: stripped of adjectives and adverbs, and with verbs in the infinitive, as well as an important use of onomatopoeia in the poems, especially when representing machines and war. A clear example of this is Marinetti’s poem “Zang, Tumb, Tumb” which contains verses like “zang-tumb-tumb-zang-zang-tuuumb tatatatatatatata picpacpampacpacpicpampampac uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu”.
  • Futurist writers used many media other than the book to circulate their texts: the brochures, the poems on posters, and the magazines that mixed poetic texts, illustrations, and theoretical pronouncements.
  • They cultivated unusual poetic genressuch as calligram, free word poetry and concrete poetry.

futuristic painting

Although Futurism was mostly literary, it had important manifestations in painting. Exercises in movement and violence also predominated in Futurist painting, as well as themes from urban culture, such as machines, sports, wars, and moving vehicles. In general, his painting was characterized by:

  • Its great task was to represent movement and dynamism, thus rejecting static objects. Movement was represented through compositions with vibrant colors and simultaneous figures, that is, the same body in multiple positions, to intensify the sensation of action and displacement through the repetition of the image or also to capture lines of force.
  • His paintings could resemble the repetitions of a kaleidoscope or the tape of a movie, creating rhythms through shapes, colors and repetitions. Thus, a human figure could have multiple arms or legs, to demonstrate its movement.
  • Futurism always preferred vibrant colors, resplendent, although he also often used transparencies. Often this served to represent moods.
  • abstraction it also had a presence among futurist paintings, especially those by Luigi Russolo.
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Main futurist authors and artists

futurism authors literature representatives Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky
Vladimir Mayakovski initiated Russian Futurism and supported the Russian Revolution.

A list of the main authors and painters of Futurism includes, apart from the name of Filippo Marinetti, those of:

  • Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916), Italian painter and sculptor, greatly influenced by Cubism, who was among the pioneers of Futurism after his arrival in Milan at the beginning of the 20th century. Towards the end of his life, however, he turned away from Futurism and followed the influence of Cezánne. His best known works are the city rises (1910), The street in front of the house (1911), Dynamism of a cyclist (1913) and Under the pergola in Naples (1914).
  • Carlo Carra (1881-1966), Italian painter who began painting murals, including the pavilions of the World’s Fair in Paris. He joined Futurism on his return to Italy, after a season in London, where he had contact with anarchism. At the end of his life he ended up dabbling in metaphysical painting. Among his most famous works are Funeral for anarchist Gali (1911) and morning at sea (1928).
  • luigi russolo (1885-1947), Italian painter and composer, author of the manifesto the art of noise (1913), in which he proposed to the futurist composer Francesco Balilla Pratella a new sound palette that would approximate the sounds of the contemporary world. In fact, he is considered the precursor of music noisefor his attempts to use noise for aesthetic purposes between 1913 and 1914.
  • Giacomo Balla (1871-1958), Italian painter and sculptor, of impressionist beginnings, whose work abundantly used pointillism as a way of dissolving the visible and capturing senses of movement and dynamism. However, his work was free of violence, unlike the rest of the futurists. In 1918 he published the “Colour Manifesto”, where he studied the use of color in the avant-garde, and from 1930 he ended up moving away from Futurism. Some of his best known works are dynamism of a dog, Girl running on the balcony Y violinist’s handall from 1912.
  • Anton Giulio Bragaglia (1890-1960), Italian artist with varied and versatile interests, considered a pioneer of futurist photography and cinema in his country. In 1911 he approached Futurism with his Treatise on photodynamismbut it was rejected by the leaders of the movement who did not take it into account in 1916 for the Futurist Cinema Manifesto. The paradox is that he was the only artist capable of creating a futuristic film, thus becoming the only representative of futuristic cinema in history.
  • Giovanni Papini (1881-1956), Italian writer and academic, close to Futurism, despite his conversion to fervent Catholicism from 1920. He was famous for dedicating his History of Italian literature “to Benito Mussolini, friend of poetry and poets” in 1937. His most famous works were The futuristic experience (1920), Gog (1931), Jacob’s Ladder (1932) and The devil (1953).
  • Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930), Russian poet and playwright, one of the great figures of poetry of the early 20th century. Initiator of Russian Futurism, when he published his manifesto together with other poets The slap to the taste of the public in 1912. Defender of the Russian Revolution, he also wrote film scripts and plays. Some of his most famous works are Myself (1913), The cloud in pants (1915) and the bedbug (1929).
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  • “Futurism” on Wikipedia.
  • “Futurism” at HA!
  • “Futurism (art movement)” at WikiArt.
  • “Futurism (the arts)”in The Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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