Back to the Future: the Work and Influence of Filippo Marinetti & Umberto Boccioni

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  • Topic: Futurism, Umberto Boccioni, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti
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  • Published : March 26, 2013
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Back to the Future
The work and influence of Filippo Marinetti & Umberto Boccioni

In Europe the transition from the 19th to the 20th century witnessed the emergence of a number of artistic and social movements which left a great impact on societies, not only in Europe but also worldwide. Movements such as Futurism, Dadaism, Surrealism, and Constructivism played an important role in changing society for the better by using their design and art practices. This era also witnessed a number of ideological and cultural changes in many fields such as psychology, philosophy, arts, and technology. Behind the popularity of Dada, Surrealism, Constructivism, Art Deco, and also Vorticism, there was a strong idea of Futurism which incorporated elements of technology, speed, violence, and mechanical objects such as cars, airplanes, and bicycles. Futurism was largely an Italian based movement, however there were other versions of the movement happening around the world, including Russia, and England.. Most Futurists practiced in various mediums of art. According to Anonymous (2010), sculpture, painting, architecture, ceramics, industrial design, interior design, graphic design, theatre and film, textiles, and literature were all acceptable mediums for The Futurists. Two of the more notorious Futurists were Filippo Marinetti, and Umberto Boccioni. Marinetti’s Manifesto of Futurism and Boccioni’s plastic dynamism and sculpture, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space are two very well known pieces of art which played an important role in the popularity of Futurism. The works of the two futurists inspired many artists of their time and are still well known amongst contemporary artists.

When the French newspaper, Le Figaro, published on its front page a manifesto about an artistic group, no one knew about the author. The manifesto was written by an EgyptianItalian named Filippo Marinetti, who was based in Milan and was one of the founding fathers of Futurism. The literary piece was about Le Futurism, the foundation manifesto of the artistic group which was in the process of forming. Marinetti was a natural born writer he wrote from a very young age. He studied in Paris, where he furthered his love for literature. Marinetti’s rebellious nature caused him some difficulties even at this age. He faced the threat of expulsion when he tried to publish Emile Zola’s scandalous novels through the school magazine. (Harrison 2003, 35) Shortly after the manifesto was published Marinetti was thrust into the public eye, gaining notoriety amongst his contemporaries who saw that he would introduce large changes in the art world. However he was severely criticized by some artists because of his passionate hate for old art and politics. In the article, Marinetti idealized the beauty of modern life and discussed the benefits of machinery, speed, violence, and youth. He talked about the transformation of Italian culture in a new artistic world. According to Henning (2006), Marinetti’s manifesto was not welcomed by most historians who saw it as an attack against history, and historicism. They were of the view that Marinetti joined anti-musuem sentiment with nationalism. Even though the manifesto was published in a French newspaper, it received a large response from Italy. “The manifesto was published in the French newspaper Le Figaro, but he emphasized its source -’from Italy’- at the same time as he rejected the museum culture of Italy, and by implication France too, in the effort to pronounce himself of the present, and of the future. Marinetti associated museums with an obsessions with the past which was corrupting and infecting the body of the nation.” (Henning 2006, 39)

Marinetti’s manifesto continued to gain popularity from contemporary artists and draw criticism from contemporary historians. His opposition to museums were considered a threat to the connection between ancient art and literature. In 1916, when Marinetti introduced the manifesto ‘The...
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