Dinamismo di un’Automobile by Luigi Russolo

Speed! Technology! Destruction!

These were the battle cries of the Futurists, a movement launched by  Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in 1909 with the Futurist Manifesto. A movement that produced many famous artists including Luigi Russolo, Giacomo Balla, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Gino Severini, and Natalia Goncharova, among others.

See Umberto Boccioni’s Dynamism of a Soccer player

What you see here is a car in motion. The idea of fragmenting the appearance of motion shows definite Cubist influences. In particular, taking an object and de-constructing it into new entities that are then re-arranged into a new interpretation of the same object – a fundamentally new perspective on the familiar. A bat mobile to the modern eye, yet one conceived and executed some 100 years ago. You can see the shape of the aerodynamic modeled car, broken into triangular facets and re-arranged, but instead of dwelling on perspectives of a stationery object, Luigi Russolo took the concept a step further and treated us to the object’s trajectory. In Dinamismo di un’Automobile, horizontally stacked red arrows point in the direction of the car’s motion. The sleek, futuristic-looking car seems to move at high speed, its large black tires, casting a moving shadow on the pavement. Now think of what cars actually looked like in 1912…

Luigi Russolo, The Revolt, 1911. Oil on canvas

Luigi Russolo, The Revolt, 1911. Oil on canvas

Before meeting Marinetti in 1910 Luigi Russolo, himself a composer and a painter, experimented with Divisionism, a style of painting defined by the separation of colors into individual dots or patches which interacted optically. Georges Seurat’A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is the most famous example of Divisionism. After the encounter with Marinetti, Luigi Russolo shifted to Futurism, signing both Marinetti’s Manifesto of Futurist Painters and the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting. But while Marinetti focused so intently on destruction [and rebirth], Russolo focused on the technological innovation and the visual manifestation of motion. In later years, Russolo drifted away from painting, but stayed engaged with Futurism through musical composition. He built his own musical instruments, which he called intonarumori, and made “noise.” The compositions share the same fragmentary quality as his paintings.

Other important works of art created in 1912:

Marcel Duchamp, Nude Descending a Staircase
Giacomo Balla, Dynamism of A Dog on a Leash
Francis Picabia, La Source
Pablo Picasso, Still-life with Chair Caning
Egon Schiele, Sitting Female Nude With Yellow Blanket

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