By Italia Liberty

Literary, artistic and political movement founded in 1909 by F.T. Marinetti. The f., Through a whole series of 'posters' and sensational controversies, advocated an art and a costume that should have made a clean sweep of the past and of any traditional expressive form, inspired by the dynamism of modern life, of mechanical civilization, and projecting itself towards the future by supplying the model to all subsequent avant-gardes.The first of Marinetti's 'posters' (published in the Gazzetta dell'Emilia of Bologna on February 5, 1909 and in French in Figaro on February 20, 1909), which already contains all the essential lines of the movement, culminates in these statements: "We affirm that the magnificence of the world has been enriched with a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car ... a roaring car, which seems to run on the machine gun, is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace ... The poet must strive, with ardor, pomp and munificence, to increase the enthusiastic fervor of the primordial elements . There is no more beauty except in struggle. No work that does not have an aggressive character can be a masterpiece ... We want to glorify war - the only hygiene of the world - militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of libertarians, the beautiful ideas for which you die ... ». Subsequent posters concern in particular the variety theater such as the 'amazement theater', the 'synthetic theater', the figurative arts, the scenography, the music, and then again the aeropoetry, the air painting etc. (the last poster dates back to the Second World War).Futurism, linking itself to philosophical irrationalism and pushing the confusion between art and life of the poetics of the late nineteenth century to the extreme, promoted a vitalistic and activist attitude that should have invested and radically changed every artistic and cultural domain and the politics itself .

Literature and theater

In the literary field, all logical and psychological consequentiality was eliminated, the delusional immediacy of onomatopoeia, f. promoted the 'words in freedom', in which an exasperated analogical associationism translated into the iconism of visual poetry ('self-illustration') and in the typographical revolution, but it also infected the expressive style of the 'posters', which remain the most remarkable of the movement, and it did not remain without consequences even on the political oratory of the time. In addition to the bourgeois literature of the nineteenth century, in response to the magniloquence and D'Annunzio aestheticism, f. it was in many ways the methodical radicalization of D'Annunzianism, and its involuntary parody. The f. it will result in a political problem, in the interventionist demonstrations at the time of the First World War, later fascist and imperialist. On the other hand, the historical importance of f. it must be sought precisely in its activism or practical dynamism, in its disruptive and dissolving function, which, among so many misunderstandings and confusions, had the merit of doing justice to a literature and art reduced to convention and academy; not already in the creative sphere, where there remained, at least as far as literature is concerned, poor results. The vaunted 'synthesis' and 'simultaneity' of futuristic lyric lyrics are often nothing more than unrealistic experiments, and the poetic or dramatic works of Marinetti and his followers (L. Folgore, P. Buzzi, F. Cangiullo, B. Corra, E. Cavacchioli etc.) appear suffocated by a rhetoric that wanting to be anti-rhetoric is even more annoying. This does not mean that great writers, from A. Soffici to A. Palazzeschi to M. Bontempelli, have taken the first steps under the banner of f., Taken from that anxiety of renewal, of adaptation to a plan of European culture, of expressive freedom, which was also at the bottom of this tumultuous movement; nor that Pirandello himself benefited, for his theater, from certain technical discoveries of futurism.In the 1915 Futurist Theater Manifesto, Corra, Marinetti and E. Settimelli advocated a theater that was "synthetic, technical, dynamic, simultaneous, autonomous, halogen and unreal". To the 'synthetic' texts by Marinetti himself, by F.B. Pratella, U. Boccioni and others are flanked by the works of greater breadth of the perhaps most important playwright of the movement, Pompeo Vasari, a singular figure of writer-gallery owner, who lived mainly in Berlin, where he managed an important gallery of modern art; The anguish of the machines and the masquerade of the impotent still retain their strength.Among the other countries in which there were movements connected in some way, albeit only nominally, to f. Italian, especially Russia and Poland. The f. Russo expressed, through highly relevant artistic personalities such as V. Majakovskij, D. Burljuk, V. Chlebnikov and B. Pasternak, the need for new and revolutionary means of expression. From it, which had its manifesto in 1913 entitled Poščëčina obščestvennomu vkusu ("Slap to the taste of the public"), all those poetic movements that flanked the revolution, trying to interpret its spirit, were derived. In Poland the f. it developed particularly between 1917 and 1922 in Krakow and Warsaw, where the Manifesty futuryzmu polskiego ("Manifesto del f. polish", 1921) by the poets A. Stern and B. Jasieński were published.

Image missing

Art and architecture

In 1910 the painters U. Boccioni, C. Carrà, L. Russolo, G. Balla and G. Severini signed the Futurist Painters Manifesto (11 February), followed by the Technical Painting Manifesto (11 April). Boccioni drafted the Technical Manifesto of Sculpture in 1912 and, between 1912 and 1913, a poster, unpublished, of Futurist architecture which then had, in 1914, an official expression in the poster drawn up by A. Sant’Elia. The programmatic need for a total detachment from the academic tradition and full adherence to modern life was matched by a theoretical elaboration (in particular by Boccioni), pictorial and plastic of the concepts of dynamism, simultaneity, interpenetration of the plans, in a wide range of nuances, from Boccioni's subjective synthesis, to the objective analysis of the dynamic representation as a sequence or trajectory of Balla, in search of a structure of Cezannian matrix in Carrà, of rhythmic effects in the fragmentation of form and color in Severini, to simultaneity as mnemonic synthesis in Russolo; research that had its roots in divisionism and more widely in European culture between symbolism and decadentism and found fruitful stimuli in contemporary Cubist research, from which the Futurists, however, peremptorily distanced themselves for the fundamental diversity of the movement's approach. Futurist works were exhibited, since 1912, in Paris, Berlin, London etc., always accompanied by declarations. In 1914, in the exhibition organized in Milan by the New Trends group, Sant’Elia exhibited, among other things, the tables of the New City and M. Chiattone drawings with buildings for apartments and constructions for a future metropolis.The field of research expanded to photography (AG Bragaglia experimented with photodynamics since 1911, but a poster, signed by Marinetti and Tato, was developed only in 1930), to the cinema (manifesto of futurist cinematography, by Marinetti, Settimelli, Corra, A. Ginna, Balla, 1916), to the scenography (in 1915, after the manifesto of the synthetic theater of Marinetti, Settimelli and Corra, E. Prampolini proposed his Futurist scenography).

Image missing

In practice and theory to the important ideas on overcoming the traditional artistic fields (polymaterism; manifesto of the painting of sounds, noises, smells, by Carrà, 1913 etc.) and in search of a total art that seemed to find its place in the theater of choice, was accompanied with the manifesto Futurist reconstruction of the universe, signed in 1915 by the 'futurist abstractists' Balla and F. Depero, the proclamation of the totality of the creative intervention in an optimistic and playful key, a setting which, after the death of Boccioni and Sant'Elia in 1916 and the dramatic fracture of the war, seems to characterize the activity of the second futurist generation in areas ranging from the urban scene to furniture and fashion, from typography to advertising, to postal art, from scenography to aerial theater, to air paint, («directed to express, with synthesis, transparency and dynamism, aviation, flight, air speeds, air prospects and, the aerial moods "), with a pressing proclamation of posters (of sinopsies or visual transpositions of music, by Bragaglia, A.A. Luciani, F. Casavola, 1919; dynamic futurist architecture, by V. Macchi, 1919, published in 1924; del mobilio, by F. Cangiullo, 1920; of tactilism, by Marinetti, 1921; futuristic mechanical art, by Prampolini, I. Pannaggi and V. Paladini, 1923; dell'aeropittura, by Marinetti and M. Somenzi, 1929, revived in 1931 signed, among others, by Balla, Depero, Dottori, Fillia, Tato; of the futurist kitchen, by Marinetti, 1930; etc.).The presentation of f. in the most important European cities and the resonance of its manifestations as far as Japan and the United States put f. compared with the most significant avant-garde groups (in particular cubism and orphism), with a controversial exchange of stimuli. In Russia the term cubofuturism was introduced by Burljuk and Majakovskij in 1913 in reference, both in the literary and in the artistic sphere, to works in which elements close to the solutions of the two movements merge, but was mainly used to underline the specificity of Russian research. Also in Russia, in 1913 M. Larionov launched the racism and, in Great Britain, P.W. Lewis published the manifest controversies of vorticism in 1914.

Image missing


Two posters on music appeared in 1910 and 1911. The proclaimed criteria were: 1) to conceive the melody as a synthesis of harmony and to consider the definitions of major and minor, excess and diminished as a single atonal chromatic mode; 2) consider enharmony as a great futurist conquest; 3) create polyphony, by merging harmony and counterpoint; 4) consider the instrumentation under the aspect of an incessantly mobile sound universe; fight critics, 'graceful' style, conservatives etc. The best known theorist and composer was F.B. Pratella. A manifestation close to music is that of the so-called Art of noises created in 1913 by L. Russolo, with a first orchestra of 'intonarumori', instruments that intone and harmonically and rhythmically regulate the noises, rather than the sounds proper.

Image missing

FUTURIST EROTICS 17: The steel alcove

In April 1921 Marinetti published for Vitagliano L’alcave of steel, immediately seized because of the cover, a sensual interpenetration between the female body and the war machine created by Renzo Ventura, a brilliant and unrecognized illustrator.The always imbecile censorship allowed the book to be placed on the market only after the destruction of the cover, which is why it is never found today. The book was reprinted with slight changes to the text by Mondadori in 1927 and 1937.It is a "lived novel", as the subtitle declares, and tells the experience of the last months of the war in 1918, when Marinetti was in charge of his "74", an armored car model.The experience of war demystifies any intellectualism:“I am taken by the joy of discovering a new law. Far from the Bergsons sitting on the stupid university chairs I find in the most dangerous moment of a battle the solution to many problems that philosophers will never be able to discover in books. Because life reveals itself only to life. The embraced secret of the past and future in the same conscience is revealed to those who have lived, sweated, cried, kissed, chewed and chewed all the past and who want to live, kiss, chew and suffer between the caresses or elbows of death. their future ".The idea of ​​eros as a full manifestation of life returns because the implications of death are the same, because in eros death, pleasure, violence and tenderness are in an essential and indissoluble relationship.Thus descriptions of battles and gestures of ferocity mingle with gallant adventures, embraces, sado masochistic fantasies; patriotism and anarchy find equal reasons in the conflict, futuristic evenings and events accompany the progress of the conflict; humanization of the machine and mechanization of the human upset the traditional way of understanding our relationship with nature, time and space.Novel lived therefore simultaneously, a story that slips into the dream, the dream into delirium, the delirium in meticulous analysis and so on quickly, with a direct language and slang expressions from all over Italy, noises, sounds, words in freedom. Erotic novel to the highest degree when Marinetti on board his "74" consumes his embrace with Italy. Italy which for him was the wonderful people he met in the trenches, in hospitals, in the countries destroyed by the bombs, the girls who were not ashamed to want a man, the people who had always been divided by a thousand traditions had in common the genius of creativity.And you understand how much impression that cover made in which Italy offered herself naked to say that only pleasure moves the sun and the other stars, only the love of the body gives meaning to the fantasies of the spirit, and there is no reason to to blame a whore who conscientiously does her job.(Text by L'ARENGARIO Study Bibliografico - Dr. Paolo and Bruno Tonini)

Image missing
Vittorio Sgarbi in Morciano di Romagna for FU.MO Futurismo Morcianes, Andrea Speziali, 2015, From the collection of: Italia Liberty
Show lessRead more
Credits: Story

The national cultural association ITALIA LIBERTY - Social promotion body - Thanks to the Pozza & Breganze art collection, Vicenza for the images; Treccani together with Paolo and Bruno Tonini for the texts.


Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
International Museum Day 2020
From iconic art to cutting-edge fashion, get a better appreciation and understanding of culture from around the world
View theme
Google apps