Luigi Russolo sees and hears the potential that the world has as the 20th century is unraveling from the build up of complexity

Luigi Russolo sees and hears the potential that the world has as the 20th century is unraveling from the build up of complexity

Luigi Russolo sees and hears the potential that the world has as the 20th century is unraveling from the build up of complexity


Luigi Russolo, a futurist multidisciplinary artist, a visionary ahead of his time in theory, probably the first to see sound in noise in painting. From the manifesto He predicts that our “multiplied sensibility, having been conquered by futurist eyes, will finally have some futurist ears, and,… every workshop will become an intoxicating orchestra of noise.”

In his work, he uses the method of simplification, what is the nature of the object, the nature of sound, vibration and rhythm which is also a vibration in a slow motion, what is in itself the nature of a visual senses, if not assembly of all the noises the colors make.


“Everyone will recognize that each sound carries with it a tangle of sensations, already well-known and exhausted, which predispose the listener to boredom, in spite of the efforts of all musical innovators.” Luigi Russolo 

 Alongside Boccioni, Carra, Severini,… Russolo was fighting for freedom from tradition that holds too tightly, it was the rebellious and self reflecting times. The burden of ultimate freedom was standing on the shoulders of futurist artists, as they had to reinvent themselves, to find the originality within. This task was partially eased with progress in science and intellectual inquiry as well as greater access to knowledge. Just what we have today with internet, the universalization of knowledge, accessible to everyone with the extended hand called smart phone. The question was posed what is next, what is the core of things from which one can build? The time and 22nd century will tell about our era, but in early 20th century as the movement of futurism was awakening, the finding of the core was in identifying the nature of things, time, space, as science was closing in from another end. 

Russolo was particularly interested in musical language, coming from the musical family, his father being an organist, he started to see the world the core of the movement through organization of noises, he crystalized music in different noise and was pioneering what later was to become experimental electronic music. He understood the sound of civilization as it is ticking with the mechanical limbs, the buzz of the city life, social formations, the complexity these entailed. 

an Italian Futurist painter, composer, builder of experimental musical instruments, and the author of the manifesto The Art of Noises (1913)

1911–12, La Musica (a pianist playing for his audience), oil on canvas

A colossal piece, demonstrating just how important music was in the consciousness of Russolo, embedded deeply into his pictorial vision, this piece describes the pianist in darkness, igniting the audience in multi color, multi layers, dimensionless space. The diversity of the audience is coming together, while music is vibrating in the circular motion, the spheres, lead by the melody in the shape of the serpent. Pianist is engulfed in darkness, looking at this world from a different perspective, positioned at the point of power, because music is power the colors are all around but not within. The vibration and the exhilaration is almost palpable in this piece as the minds travel together in circles inwards.


Sintesi plastica dei movimenti di una donna, 1912, Luigi Russolo

Portrays the uncatchable aura the futuristic movement was defining, often overlapping with different sense, the sounds, the scents, in a way augmenting the perception of the painting itself. This piece has a gloomy atmosphere, yet powerful in it’s structure, relentless determination to make a mark on this world, perishable as it is. There is almost a military atmosphere and will to power in this piece, otherworldly and standing on the shoulders of the unconscious collective of the early 20th century.





Russolo, 1912, Solidity of Fog, oil on canvas

Early 20th century light in the night seems to be recurring theme through Russolo’s work, the obsession with atmosphere, senses, scents, sounds, trying to depict the tangible into the intellectual sphere, the concept of duality one ripple of light is coming from underneath and another is coming from a celestial body, a Moon. Fog the most intangible of the weather conditions is symbolically used in here to depict the space and time, to saturate the existence and the atmosphere in making. The piece is reverberating the mysterious nature of the shadows, the emphasize is given to the atmosphere and the subjects or objects of the piece itself seem to appear in the background. Overall gloomy mood is probably how he felt about the current times, the collective consciousness of the people around.

Russolo is integrating different expressions, forms of art, using synaesthesia actively, probably as a response and influence of the late Romantic convictions relating to mood and atmosphere, but he takes it one step further. Very futuristic in the approach, integrating many fields together, putting together a jigsaw of elements that actually overlaps like one sphere through the other.
This applied to many areas of life, and maybe in today’s age of internet, multiplication, diversity and general ease of reach we have to embrace this spectre of diversity with the common cause, just like humanity is getting together in all it’s diversity but realizing that Earth is the one boat sailing through Space at the speed of 30 km per second.

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