Umberto Boccioni and the birth of the movement futurism, synthesis as opposed to fragmentation and highly relevant to the intellectual notions today
Integration vs Fragmentation
The world was becoming increasingly fast paced, violent and reorganized, and while certain group of painters like Duchamp and Kupka focused on deconstructing the reality and fragmenting the elements, Boccioni on the hand believed in the integration of all those many elements and the continuity of the whole, the powers that the industry and society were achieving and transforming themselves.
The above two from the States of Minds series represent further the industrial and emotional response of the age Boccioni was living in. The resistance to change in the – Those who stay – and the perpetual movement and coming and going in the depiction of the Train station in The Farewells.
Boccioni’s world and the birth of futurism
Considered as one of the founders of the Futurism movement which emerged shortly before WWI, Boccioni was deeply interested in philosophy, rebellion, socialism and he also believed in the intuitive. Nietzsche, Bergson and the Symbolist painters were very important influences on the formation of not only his art but also in his development of theory.
Here is the extract from his manifesto:
- Destroy the cult of the past, the obsession with the ancients, pedantry and academic formalism.
- Totally invalidate all kinds of imitation.
- Elevate all attempts at originality, however daring, however violent.
- Bear bravely and proudly the smear of ‘madness’ with which they try to gag all innovators.
- Regard art critics as useless and dangerous.
- Rebel against the tyranny of words: ‘Harmony’ and ‘good taste’ and other loose expressions which can be used to destroy the works of Rembrandt, Goya, Rodin..
- Sweep the whole field of art clean of all themes and subjects which have been used in the past.
- Support and glory in our day-to-day world, a world which is going to be continually and splendidly transformed by victorious Science.
- The dead shall be buried in the earth’s deepest bowels!
- p. 27: quoted in: William Boulware Schafer (1995) The Turn of the Century: The First Futurists. p. 57
- Source: Wikipedia
It is also true that without flashes of the absolute, which are granted to only a few, humanity would proceed in the dark, indeed it would not exist, because it would not acknowledge itself to itself! And as far as I know the flash as never preceded by explanations or preambles, and only a very small mind.. ..could fail to understand that eternal aspiration absolute and that the work is the relative, that to create is already to circumscribe; that to comment is to circumscribe the circumscribed, is to subdivide the divided; is to reduce to minimum terms, is to annihilate.
- Boccioni’s quote, from his lecture, Rome, May 1911; as quoted in Futurism, ed. Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008, p. 55
Art is viable when it finds elements in the surrounding environment. Our ancestors drew their subject matter from the religious attitudes which weighed on their souls. We must now learn to draw inspiration from the tangible miracles around us.
Reflecting the age it was made in, more than 100 years from now, this painting is somehow still resonant with today’s society. Isn’t it interesting that he chose to depict the darkness emanating from the human, while the hat is contrasting this with bright colors and life. Indirectly this expresses the important of the embellishments within the society, and the superficial, while the inner world is looming with darkness. I find this highly relevant to today’s macro and micro celebrities swanning around and being worship for the superficial embellishments they are offering to the world, through various technological means of communication.
‘The Street enters the House’ is not only a prime reflection of societal changes that were happening at the time of making but also represents figuratively speaking Boccioni’s idealism towards the synthesis of everything around and within us. The emphasis is primarily on the social aspect, further integration and communication of the society, which is fitting considering that the arrival of technology was making it increasingly possible to connect to one another.
Umberto Boccioni (1882 – 1916) was an influential Italian painter and sculptor. As one of the Futurism Movement’s main figures and its principal theorist, he was instrumental in shaping the revolutionary aesthetic. Despite his short life, his approach to the dynamism of form and the deconstruction of solid mass and emphasis on synthesis guided artists long after his death.
His works are held by many public art museums. Source: Wikipedia.