Futurism

Futurism

Magritte was given a futurist catalogue by Pierre Bourgeois shortly after they met at the Art Academy. By 1920 Magritte and ELT Mesens requested more information from the leader of futurism, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. They received more of Marinetti's futurism pamphets. In fact there's a draft for a letter to Marinetti in which Mesens thanks Marinetti for sending futurist pamphets.

Several of Magritte's early 1920s paintings reflect his interest in futurism:


                         
Jeunesse- Rene Magritte 1924

 

While lecturing to students at the Musée Royal des Beaux-Arts in Antwerp in 1938, Magritte said of Futurism:

In a state of real intoxication, I painted a whole series of Futurist paintings. Yet, I don’t believe the lyricism I wanted to capture had an unchanging center unrelated to aesthetic Futurism (Torczyner 214).

Gablik suggests "his Futurism was never orthodox, in that it was always combined with a certain eroticism, as in the picture Youth, where the diffused figure of a nude girl hovers over the image of a boat (Gablik 23).

Here's an article about futurism from History of Art:

In contrast with other early 20th-century avant-garde movements, the distinctive feature of Futurism was its intention to become involved in all aspects of modem life. Its aim was to effect a systematic change in society and, true to the movement's name, lead it towards new departures into the "future". Futurism was a direction rather than a style. Its encouragement of eccentric behaviour often prompted impetuous and sometimes violent attempts to stage imaginative situations in the hope of provoking reactions. The movement tried to liberate its adherents from the shackles of 19th-century' bourgeois conventionality and urged them to cross the boundaries of traditional artistic genres in order to claim a far more complete freedom of expression. Through a barrage of manifestos that dealt not only with various aspects of art, such as painting, sculpture, music, architecture, and design, but with society in general, the Futurists proclaimed the cult of modernity and the advent of a new form of artistic expression, and put an end to the art of the past. The entire classical tradition, especially that of Italy, was a prime target for attack, while the worlds of technology, mechanization, and speed were embraced as expressions of beauty and subjects worthy of the artist's interest.

Futurism, which started out as a literary movement, had its first manifesto (signed by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti) published in Le Figaro in 1909. It soon attracted a group of young Italian artists - Umberto Boccioni, Giacomo Balla (1871-1958), Carlo Carra (1881-1966), Luigi Russolo (1885-1947), and Gino Severini (1883-1966) - who collaborated in writing the "Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting" and the "Manifesto of the Futurist Painters", both of which were published in 1910.


                     Danseuse bleue-Gino Severini

Despite being the sole Italian avant-garde movement. Futurism first came to light in Paris where the cosmopolitan atmosphere was ready to receive and promote it. Its development coincided with that of Cubism, and the similarities and differences in the philosophies of the two movements have often been discussed. Without doubt they shared a common cause in making a definitive break with the traditional, objective methods of representation. However, the static quality of Cubism is evident when compared with the dynamism of the Futurists, as are the monochrome or subdued colours of the former in contrast to the vibrant use of colour by the latter. The Cubists' rational form of experimentation, and intellectual approach to the artistic process, also contrasts with the Futurists' vociferous and emotive exhortations for the mutual involvement of art and life, with expressions of total art and provocative demonstrations in public. Cubists held an interest in the objective value of form, while Futurists relied on images and the strength of perception and memory in their particularly dynamic paintings. The Futurists believed that physical objects had a kind of personality and vitality of their own. revealed by "force-lines" - Boccioni referred to this as "physical transcendentalism". These characteristic lines helped to inform the psychology and emotions of the observer and influenced surrounding objects "not by reflections of light, but by a real concurrence of lines and real conflicts of planes" (catalogue for the Bernheim-Jeune exhibition, 1911). In this way, the painting could interact with the observer who, for the first time, would be looking "at the centre of the picture" rather than simply viewing the picture from the front. This method of looking at objects that was based on their inherent movement - and thereby capturing the vital moment of a phenomenon within its process of continual change - was partly influenced by a fascination with new technology and mechanization. Of equal importance, however, was the visual potential of the new-found but flourishing art of cinematography. Futurists felt strongly that pictorial sensations should be shouted, not murmured. This belief was reflected in their use of very flamboyant, dynamic colours, based on the model of Neo-Impressionist theories of the fragmentation of light. A favourite subject among Futurist artists was the feverish life of the metropolis: the crowds of people, the vibrant nocturnal life of the stations and dockyards, and the violent scenes of mass movement and emotion that tended to erupt suddenly. Some Futurists, such as Balla, chose themes with social connotations, following the anarchic Symbolist tradition of northern Italy and the humanitarian populism of Giovanni Cena.
 

The first period of Futurism was an analytical phase, involving the analysis of dynamics, the fragmentation of objects into complementary shades of colour, and the juxtaposition of winding, serpentine lines and perpendicular straight lines. Milan was the centre of Futurist activity, which was led by Boccioni and supported by Carra and Russolo. These three artists visited Paris together in 1911 as guests of Severini, who had settled there in 1906. During their stay, they formulated a new artistic-language, which culminated in works dealing with the "expansion of objects in space" and "states of mind" paintings. A second period, when the Futurists adopted a Cubistic idiom, was known as the synthetic phase, and lasted from 1913 to 1916.

At this time, Boccioni took up sculpture, developing his idea of "sculpture of the environment" which heralded the "spatial" sculpture of Moore, Archipenko, and the Constructivists. In Rome, Balla and Fortunato Depero (1892-1960) created "plastic complexes", constructions of dynamic, basic silhouettes in harsh, solid colours. The outbreak of World War I prompted many Futurist artists to enlist as volunteers. This willingness to serve was influenced by the movement's doctrine, which maintained that war was the world's most effective form of cleansing. Both Boccioni and the architect Antonio Sant'Elia, who had designed an imaginary Futurist city, were killed in the war and the movement was brought to a sudden end.

During the 1920s, some Futurists attempted to revive the movement and align it with other European avant-garde movements, under the label of "Mechanical Art". Its manifesto, published in 1922. showed much in common with Purism and Constructivism. Futurism also became associated with "aeropainting" a technique developed in 1929 by Balla, Benedetta, Dottori, Fillia, and other artists. This painting style served as an expression of a desire for the freedom of the imagination and of fantasy.
 


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