Reference Library: Futurism (art)
'Futurism' was a 20th century art movement, not to be confused with Futurist - trend watching. Although a nascent Futurism can be seen surfacing throughout the very early years of the last century, the 1907 essay Entwurf einer neuen Ästhetik der Tonkunst (Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Music) by the Italian composer Ferruccio Busoni is sometimes claimed as its true jumping-off point. Futurism was a largely Italian and Russian movement although it also had adherents in other countries.
The Futurists explored every medium of art, including painting, sculpture, poetry, theatre, music, architecture and even gastronomy. The Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti was the first among them to produce a manifesto of their artistic philosophy in his Manifesto of Futurism (1909), first released in Milan and published in the French paper Le Figaro (February 20). Marinetti summed up the major principles of the Futurists, including a passionate loathing of ideas from the past, especially political and artistic traditions. He and others also espoused a love of speed, technology and violence. The car, the plane, the industrial town were all legendary for the Futurists, because they represented the technological triumph of man over nature.
Marinetti's impassioned polemic immediately attracted the support of the young Milanese painters —Boccioni, Carrà, and Russolo—who wanted to extend Marinetti's ideas to the visual arts (Russolo was also a composer, and introduced Futurist ideas into his compositions). The painters Balla and Severini met Marinetti in 1910 and together these artists represented Futurism's first phase.
The painter and sculptor Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916) wrote the Manifesto of Futurist Painters in 1910 in which he vowed:
:We will fight with all our might the fanatical, senseless and snobbish religion of the past, a religion encouraged by the vicious existence of museums. We rebel against that spineless worshipping of old canvases, old statues and old bric-a-brac, against everything which is filthy and worm-ridden and corroded by time. We consider the habitual contempt for everything which is young, new and burning with life to be unjust and even criminal.
Futurists dubbed the love of the past "pastism", and its proponents "pastists" (cf. Stuckism). They would sometimes even physically attack alleged pastists, in other words, those who were apparently not enjoying Futurist exhibitions or performances.
:Main article: Russian Futurism
Like their Italian counterparts, the Russian Futurists — Velimir Khlebnikov, Aleksey Kruchenykh, Vladimir Mayakovsky, David Burlyuk — were fascinated with dynamism, speed, and restlessness of modern urban life. They purposely sought to arouse controversy and to attract publicity by repudiating static art of the past. The likes of Pushkin and Dostoevsky, according to them, should have been "heaved overboard from the steamship of modernity". They acknowledged no authorities whatsoever; even Marinetti — when he arrived to Russia on a proseletyzing visit in 1914 — was obstructed by most Russian Futurists who did not profess to owe anything to him.
In contrast to Marinetti's circle, Russian Futurism was a literary rather than artistic movement. Although many leading poets (Mayakovsky, Burlyuk) dabbled in painting, their interests were primarily literary. On the other hand, such well-established artists as Mikhail Larionov, Natalia Goncharova, and Kazimir Malevich found inspiration in the refreshing imagery of Futurist poems and experimented with versification themselves. The poets and painters attempted to collaborate on such innovative productions as the Futurist opera Victory Over the Sun, with texts by Kruchenykh and sets contributed by Malevich. The Russian movement began to break up with the start of the Stalinist age. Artists like Khebnikov were persecuted for their belief in free thought, and art was thought of as a, "pointless means for peoples energy to be spent".
Futurism in the 1920's and 1930's
Many Italian Futurists instinctively supported the rise of fascism in Italy in the hope of modernizing the society and the economy of a country that was still torn between unfilled industrial revolution in the North and the rural, archaic South. Marinetti founded the Partito Politico Futurista (Futurist Political Party) in early 1918, which only a year later was absorbed into Benito Mussolini's Fasci di combattimento, making Marinetti one of the first supporters and members of the National Fascist Party. However, he opposed Fascism's later canonical exultion of existing institutions, calling them "reactionary." Nevertheless, he stayed a notable force in developing the party thought throughout the regime. Some Futurists' Aestheticization of violence and glorification of modern warfare as the ultimate artistic expression and their intense nationalism also induced them to embrace fascism. Many Futurists became associated with the regime over the 1920's, which gave them both official recognition and the ability to carry out important works, especially in architecture.
However, some leftists that came to Futurism in the earlier years continued to oppose Marinetti's domination of the artistic and political direction of Futurism.
Futurism expanded to encompass other artistic domains. In architecture, it was characterized by a distinctive thrust towards rationalism and modernism through the use of advanced building materials. In Italy, futurist architects were often at odds with the fascist state's tendency towards Roman imperial/classical aesthetic patterns. However several interesting futurist buildings were built in the years 1920–1940, including many public buildings: stations, maritime resorts, post offices, etc. See, for example, Trento's railway station built by Angiolo Mazzoni.
The legacy of Futurism
Futurism influenced many other twentieth century art movements, including Art Deco, Vorticism, Constructivism, Surrealism and Dada. Futurism as a coherent and organized artistic movement is now regarded as extinct, having died out in the 1944 with the death of his leader Marinetti, and Futurism was, like science fiction, in part overtaken by 'the future'.
Nonetheless the ideals of futurism remain as significant components of modern Western culture; the emphasis on youth, speed, power and technology finding expression in much of modern commercial cinema and culture. Ridley Scott consciously evoked the designs of Sant'Elia in Blade Runner. Echoes of Marinetti's thought, especially his "dreamt-of metallization of the human body", are still strongly prevalent in Japanese culture, and surface in manga/anime and the works of artists such as Shinya Tsukamoto, director of the "Tetsuo" (lit. "Ironman") films. Futurism has produced several reactions, including the literary genre of cyberpunk - in which technology was often treated with ambivalence - whilst artists who came to prominence during the first flush of the Internet, such as Stelarc, Natasha Vita-More and Mariko Mori, produce work which comments on futurist ideals. Natasha Vita-More also designed Primo Posthuman as the artistic futurists' body design.
A revival of sorts of the Futurist movement began in 1988 with the creation of the Neo-Futurist style of theatre in Chicago, which utilizes Futurism's focus on speed and brevity to create a new form of immediate theatre. Currently, there are active Neo-Futurist troupes in Chicago and New York.
Prominent Futurist artists
*David Burliuk painter
*Vladimir Burliuk painter
*Vladimir Mayakovsky, poet
*Angiolo Mazzoni, architect
*Antonio Sant'Elia, architect
*Nicolaj Diulgheroff, architect, painter
*Gentile, Emilo. 2003. The Struggle for Modernity: Nationalism, Futurism, and Fascism. Praeger Publishers. ISBN 0275976920
*[http://users.iptelecom.net.ua/~keytoart/ Ukrainian and russian futurists]
*[http://dir.yahoo.com/Arts/Art_History/Periods_and_Movements/Futurism/ Yahoo index of Futurism Websites]
*[http://www.newmusicbox.org/page.nmbx?id=59tp01 The Futurist Moment: Howlers, Exploders, Crumplers, Hissers, and Scrapers] by Kenneth Goldsmith
*http://www.visualfuturist.com/ Visual Futurist Multimedia and Digital Arts
*[http://www.rebel.net/~futurist/indiceframe.htm Italian Futurist Architecture]
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