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Futurism – Movement and Sensation

FUTURISM - MOVEMENT AND SENSATION
by Maura McDonnell

Futurism praised and glorified the energy, speed and danger of machines in art.  The futurists had disgust for and rebelled against the 'relics of the past' (interestingly these relics in museums were ok for the old, the disabled and prisoners - people with no future?).  The new beauty was not the old art of the past, such as the sculptor piece 'Victory of Samothrace', but the beauty of speed.

Victory of Samothrace

How was something so ephemeral and invisible to the eye as speed to be rendered in painting?
Something invisible but felt?

In the two painting manifestos and in particular the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting, added to the futurist list of statements is the celebration of science - 'victorious science'.  Science could reveal what was hidden in nature and to our vision, x-rays had penetrated the 'opacity' and materiality of the body.  Chronophotography and the time-lapse photography of Eadweard Muybridge and Étienne-Jules Marey had provided a means of analysing and seeing movement via  an image by breaking down movement into a sequence of superimposed images, emulated then in futurist painting.

Giacomo Balla, Speed of a Motorcycle, 1913, Oil on Canvas
Invisible phenomenon to the eye such as motion, speed, movement could be revealed through photography and painting and therefore simulated in painting creating a sensation of movement.

Science also provided artists with new knowledge at the time about colour theory and how our eye mixed light.  These related to how the eye responded to light and vibrancy, in particular Michel Chevreul's theory of simultaneous contrast which influenced the divisionist technique in painting and as such divisionism was promoted by the futurists.  Divisionism a form of additive colour mixing, was considered to assist in creating vibrancy and luminosity in a painting.  Here, contrasting colours laid side by side create a new colour and one that is more vibrant than traditional colour mixing.

With such ephemeral, vibrant sensation sought in their paintings, more statements from their manifesto sum up their ideas.  'Movement and light destroy the materiality of bodies' and 'Our bodies penetrate the sofas upon which we sit, and the sofas penetrate our bodies. The motor bus rushes into the houses which it passes, and in their turn the houses throw themselves upon the motor bus and are blended with it'. It is then to this incredible painting that I end my presentation -  The Street Enters The House by Umberto Boccioni.




This very short writing on Futurism was prepared for a presentation on the History and Theory of Digital Arts Seminar on Thursday 8th February 2012, where Mathew Causey asked us to prepare a short presentation on one of a number of topics.  I chose Futurism as I have always been fascinated with the emphasis painters put on motion and sensation in their works.  This short presentation is based on three pieces of art work and based on reading the following futurist manifestos. The Futurist Manifesto by F. T. Marinetti, 1909 http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/T4PM/futurist-manifesto.html Manifesto of the Futurist Painters by Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Luigi Russolo, Giacomo Balla, Gino Severini http://www.unknown.nu/futurism/painters.html Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting by Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Luigi Russolo, Giacomo Balla, Gino Severini http://www.unknown.nu/futurism/techpaint.html

source images from:
http://musee.louvre.fr/oal/victoiredesamothrace/victoiredesamothrace_acc_en.html
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0e/Umberto_Boccioni_-_A_strada_entra_nella_casa.jpg/574px-Umberto_Boccioni_-_A_strada_entra_nella_casa.jpg

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