Futurism is one of those avant-garde movements of 20th century which left it’s mark on the modern art. It was not only an artistic but also a social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century. It emphasized speed, technology, youth, and violence, and objects such as the car, the aeroplane, and the industrial city. Although it was largely an Italian phenomenon, there were parallel movements in Russia, England, Belgium and elsewhere.
Its key figures were the Italians Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Gino Severini, Giacomo Balla, Antonio Sant’Elia.
It glorified modernity and aimed to liberate Italy from the weight of its past.
Futurism had its manifesto, which emphasizes all these values mentioned above. Here is everything you must know about Manifesto of Futurism
1. It was written by… a poet.
Filippo Tommaso Marinetti wasn’t an artist – he was a poet. He wrote the Manifesto in 1908 and it first appeared as a preface to a volume of his poems, published in Milan in January 1909. It was also published in the Italian newspaper Gazzetta dell’Emilia in Bologna on 5 February 1909, then in French as Manifeste du futurisme (Manifesto of Futurism) in the newspaper Le Figaro on 20 February 1909.
2. Futurists fought the past
For futurists, 19th century Italy was the synonym of everything horrible. In this period, in which industry is of growing importance in all Europe, futurists need to confirm that Italy is present, has an industry, has the power to take part in the new experience, and will find the superior essence of progress in its major symbols: the car and its speed.
3. Futurist wanted literature to follow the progress
Futurists insist that literature will not be overtaken by progress; rather, it will absorb progress in its evolution, and will demonstrate that such progress must manifest in this manner because Man will use this progress to sincerely let his instinctive nature explode.
4. They loved not only progress but also speed
Man is reacting against the potentially overwhelming strength of progress, and shouts out his centrality. Man will use speed, not the opposite (art. 5 and 6).
5. For them, poetry was connected to the aggression
Poetry will help Man to consent his soul be part of all that (art. 6 and 7), indicating a new concept of beauty that will refer to the human instinct of aggression.
6. They demanded purification by war – which influenced fascism and chauvinism
In article 9, war is defined as a necessity for the health of human spirit, a purification that allows and benefits idealism. Their explicit glorification of war and its “hygienic” properties influenced the ideology of fascism. The Futurist Party, for example, became part of the Combatto Fascisti before the latter’s assuming power. F. T. Marinetti was very active in Fascist politics until he withdrew in protest of the “Roman Grandeur” which had come to dominate Fascist aesthetics.
7. They wanted to… BURN MUSEUMS
Article 10 states: “We want to demolish museums and libraries, fight morality, feminism and all opportunist and utilitarian cowardice.”
8. The Manifesto says little about art itself
The founding manifesto did not contain a positive artistic programme, which the Futurists attempted to create in their subsequent Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting (1914). This committed them to a “universal dynamism”, which was to be directly represented in painting.
Here you can read the whole manifesto – although I really like futurism in an aesthetic way, some of these points sound like a nightmare.
MANIFESTO OF FUTURISM
- We intend to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and fearlessness.
- 2. Courage, audacity, and revolt will be essential elements of our poetry.
- Up to now literature has exalted a pensive immobility, ecstasy, and sleep. We intend to exalt aggressive action, a feverish insomnia, the racer’s stride, the mortal leap, the punch and the slap.
- We affirm that the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car whose hood is adorned with great pipes, like serpents of explosive breath—a roaring car that seems to ride on grapeshot is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.
- We want to hymn the man at the wheel, who hurls the lance of his spirit across the Earth, along the circle of its orbit.
- The poet must spend himself with ardor, splendor, and generosity, to swell the enthusiastic fervor of the primordial elements.
- Except in struggle, there is no more beauty. No work without an aggressive character can be a masterpiece. Poetry must be conceived as a violent attack on unknown forces, to reduce and prostrate them before man.
- We stand on the last promontory of the centuries!… Why should we look back, when what we want is to break down the mysterious doors of the Impossible? Time and Space died yesterday. We already live in the absolute, because we have created eternal, omnipresent speed.
- We will glorify war—the world’s only hygiene—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.
- We will destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind will fight moralism, feminism, every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice.
- We will sing of great crowds excited by work, by pleasure, and by riot; we will sing of the multicolored, polyphonic tides of revolution in the modern capitals; we will sing of the vibrant nightly fervor of arsenals and shipyards blazing with violent electric moons; greedy railway stations that devour smoke-plumed serpents; factories hung on clouds by the crooked lines of their smoke; bridges that stride the rivers like giant gymnasts, flashing in the sun with a glitter of knives; adventurous steamers that sniff the horizon; deep-chested locomotives whose wheels paw the tracks like the hooves of enormous steel horses bridled by tubing; and the sleek flight of planes whose propellers chatter in the wind like banners and seem to cheer like an enthusiastic crowd.