Has public perception of the political reputation of Futurism hindered the impact of the movements work?
As the only far right movement of the Avant Garde it is possible to surmise that there is little impact created by this period in artistic expression, and that it faded away from both secular and commercial practice without having made a significant contribution to art or its progression. This however may not be the case. It is apparent that artistic movements after this period reacted against this modernisms more political and destructive narrative but the style and attempt to explore motion itself is still apparent and reoccurs even through until today. This politically predominantly Italian movement had amongst its number such artist as Giacoma Balla, Natalia Goncharova (Russian) and Carlo Carra.
In 1909 before the movement was fully realised art theorist Fillipo Marinetti published his manifesto in Paris. Within the manifesto it is stated that “Art can be nothing but violence, cruelty and injustice.”( http://www.italianfuturism.org 2006) Marinetti also commented that art was “war”. Often these statements combined with Marinetti’s personal links with Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini have lead many critics and artist alike to suggest that Marinetti‘s propositions were generated in support of the fascist uprising in Italy and in Mussolini himself. This in itself does not confirm whether these statements were the political view of the artists themselves. Is it then the case that the Manifesto has tainted the general perception of Futurism? Is it a reaction to the printed word rather than interpretation of art that generates the belief that the entire Futurism movement were themselves political motivated.
When considering the impact of futurism it may be best to consider the art itself. For instance in Natalia Goncharova painting “cyclist”(fig1) the piece which contrive two main points, one the attempt to express movement or dynamism and the other the implication of construction or form. The artist has chosen to use elements of line, form, abstraction even palette using hue and shade to imply mechanical and industrial rather than sentimental or natural. The painting itself does not however contain political iconography, symbolism or text. The use of implied motion and form has continued since this movement. With some confirmation of the continued use of this movement’s styles and technique we should as a point of understanding consider statements made by the practitioners of futurism itself to consider their political motivation. For instance in: Piani plastici come espanzione sferica nello spazio Carrà, Carlo Carra is quoted as stateing(appendix1)
In this Carra refers to the expression of movement without referring to the more brutal narrative of Marinetti. Perhaps it is the period in which each is stated or written that alters there perception. Marinetti produced his manifesto in 1909, this followed a period in history were widespread public revolt had already destabilized Russia (1905) whilst in Italy three years of political unrest,, natural disasters and financial collapse, left a country on the edge of revolt with people turning towards far right political extremism. Marinetti expression of war may be as a result of his awareness of this growing unrest and suffering rather than a true expression of artistic interpretation or understanding. Carra however made his quote in March 1913 when unrest is widely spread with the rise of communism in both Russia and China, whilst most of southern Europe was caught up in the first Balkan war. This is not mentioned by Carra who chooses to focus the commentary on his work not on the political situation. Carra attempts to express movement. This being understood can only lead to the conclusion that though Carra showed his support of the regime on a personal level and chose not to present such right wing ideology within his work or within this particular statement.
It is a fact that though elements of their work have appeared and reappeared in the work of contemporary artist such as Joseph Stella in his industrial construction pieces (image1)
(image,1), Pablo Picasso (image2) in his early pieces moving towards Cubism.
2 3 4
With later artists such as Thomas Hart Benton (image3 the Steel Mill), Costas Varatos (image 4 Dromeas the running man). It is possible to see on reflection that the artists of the movement have though choosing to side with the political situation of the time have generated art work whose merits and strength look beyond the mere political situation of their day. Since this artist such as Ai Wei Wei (China) (IMAGE5) 5 , 6
Sonham Yoshi (Tibet), and graffiti artists such as Banksy(image6) have continued to present work deliberating political ideology and implying their own political beliefs. It can therefore safely be surmised that though the artists of the futurism movement were far right in there aspirations it has not detracted from the impact of their work. There political aspirations it would seem are a statement of the situation with which they found themselves. And since such sentiment and political thinking lead to the Second World War, we as a collective though sharing some of the base sentiment are trying to continue to push boundaries of art without the social impact that such political beliefs once caused. Singer and civil rights activist Nina Simone has said, “ ‘how can you be an artist and not reflect the times’? We bring you some of the most influential protest”. This perhaps more directly highlights the current ethos now expounded by most conceptual and contemporary artist. Many who look back at the exploration of early art movements for inspiration, do not look back for their political aspirations.
“We Futurists are trying…with the power of intuition, to place ourselves at the very centre of things, in such a way that our ego forms with their own uniqueness a single complex. We thus give plastic planes a plastic expansion in space, obtaining this feeling of something in perpetual motion which is peculiar to everything living.”(2008, p. 146).
History of Europe. (n.d.). Retrieved January 01, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/history-of-Europe
The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism. (n.d.). Retrieved January 01, 2017, from htt M. (2008).
Carra – his quotes on painting art & Futurism. Retrieved January 01, 2017, from https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/carra-his-quotes-on-painting-art-and-futurism-6326185
O’Mahony, M. (2006). American art. London: Flame Tree.
Ai Wei Wei- www.indiatoday.com
Joseph Stella- www.theartstory.com
Pablo Picasso- www.nationalgallery.com
Thomas Hart Breton- www.artnet.com
Costas Vartos- www.deceptology.com
Natalia Goncharova- www.artinrussia.org