(Taken from www.futurism.org, full text at http://www.futurism.org.uk/intro.htm)
Literary and poetic in origin, the Futurist movement burst violently onto the European cultural scene on 20 February 1909 when the French newspaper Le
       Figaro carried on its front page the aggressive and inflammatory Founding and Manifesto of Futurism. It was written by the polemical Filippo Tommaso
       Marinetti, a highly inventive firebrand and a master of public relations. In fact, at this stage, Marinetti was the movement's only member but soon gathered
       a literary and artistic coterie around him.

       Within a year the doyen of the group, Giacomo Balla, with  Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Luigi Russolo and Gino Severini co-signed The Manifesto of
       Futurist Painting. Indeed, Futurism was to be characterized by the huge number of wide-ranging manifestos issued in its name and used to promote it to a
       mass audience. In fact, the tenets of Futurism across the arts were invariably defined in words of manifestos long before they appeared in the arts

       Futurism was a far-reaching Italian movement that included poetry, literature, painting, graphics, typography, sculpture, product design, architecture,
       photography, cinema and the performing arts and focused on the dynamic, energetic and violent character of changing 20th century life, especially city
       life. It particularly emphasized the power, force and motion of machinery combined with the contemporary fascination with speed while at the same time
       denouncing the 'static' art of the past and the passéist or old-fashioned establishment. On the downside it also glorified war, apparently denigrated women,
       initially favored Fascism and vilified artistic tradition wanting to "…destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind…".

       It is not widely realized today that much of the initial driving force behind Futurism was political. Italy, as a country, was only formed in 1861 and by the
       turn of the twentieth century was still socially, culturally and administratively backward compared with the rest of Europe. One of Marinetti's ideals was a
       somewhat altruistic desire to drag Italy, screaming and shouting if necessary, into the modern twentieth century. In the years leading up to the First World
       War, the whole of Europe was an unstable political melting pot and as early as 1909 Marinetti published the First Political Manifesto of Futurism to be
       followed in 1911 by the Second Political Manifesto of Futurism. Balla, Carrà and Russolo were all Anarchists and Boccioni was a Marxist-Anarchist. They
       were all politically active and, together with Marinetti and many other Futurists, took part in the irredentist demonstrations that urged Italy to enter the First
       World War. They were all repeatedly arrested.

       Of all the art forms embracing Futurism it was possibly painting that made, and still makes, the greatest mark. The Futurists’ prime concern was the
       expression of their ideas on culture and contemporary events. Stylistically widespread and lacking a defined, cohesive visual style, Futurist painting owes
       some debts to Italian Divisionism and much Futurist painting is often dismissed as a Cubist derivative. Specifically, the hard geometric lines and planes
       that characterize much of the early Futurist work of, for example, Balla, Carrà, Boccioni, Ardengo Soffici and Severini is related closely to the
       contemporary Cubist movement. Conversely, Futurist representations, of speed and motion especially, had some reciprocal influence on Cubism and on
       the Russian Constructivists.


Giacomo Balla. Street Light. 1909
Form: Oil on canvas. abstract, bright saturated colors, filament like brushstrokes

Iconography: In the detail of the street lamp we can see how the brush strokes and colors are completely abstract. They represent to Balla the disintegration and diffusion of the particles of light themselves. Note how the moon is being eaten up by the rays emanating forth from the electric street lamp. This shows how low the Futurists thought of the archaic, primitive world of nature and felt that technology was the only true way to improve life in Italy. 

Context:  Balla, like other futurists, was interested in all things mechanical, technical. "In the same year that Matisse painted Luxe, Calme et Volupe (1904-5) which was then the most radically new in French art, Marinetti wrote Let's Kill Moonlight, an allegorical poem about his grandiose ambitions for the Futurists'  conquest of world culture. The epic poem is structured on a rigid, binary opposition of light and dark. The moon  represents the passive, romantic, and effeminate qualities that Marinetti wanted to completely eradicate from art and from life." (www.aestheticnorms.com)

In the poem Futurists destroy the obsolete, passé cities of Paralysis and Gout, then ascend to the summit of the world in a squadron of biplanes and aboard a "Great  Military Railroad." The climax occurs when a "voluptuous moon" rises over the horizon  above a lush and perfumed field, nearly lulling the Futurists to sleep. The prospect of sleep in the new age of electric lights enrages the Futurists and they harness  hydroelectric turbines to annihilate the enemy moon. Instantly "three hundred electric moons cancel, with their rays of blinding mineral whiteness, the ancient green queen of   loves." cited by Ann Temkin, "Luce Futuriste" in The Futurist Imagination, Yale University Art Gallery, 1983 p. 30. The atom was a new and radical concept, one which the  Futurists pounced on with glee. They were almost obsessed with making its' presence known and excited by the new way in which it allowed them to represent the world around them.


Balla. Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash. 1912
Form: Oil on canvas. A person walking a dog, they both look like they're in motion. It has an asymmetrical composition, with the persons top half cropped by the edge of the painting. The focus is on the dog. Earth tones  and dark colors were used as opposed to the bright saturated colors of Street Light.

Iconography: The main focus in the painting is the dog. While there is a man or woman walking the dog, that is unimportant. We are shown that the importance is on the dog because the top half of the person is chopped off, and the dog is shown in full view. Balla wanted to show simultaneous views of the dog in motion, and this is achieved by how he has layered the views of the dog one on top of the other.

Context: "Futurism celebrated the machine - the racing car was heralded as the triumph of the age and early futurist paintings were concerned with capturing figures and objects in motion. In [his] Girl Running on the Balcony, Balla attempted to realize movement by showing the girl's running legs in repeated sequence. Other paintings, such as Dog on a Leash, got to grips with the problem of recreating speed and flight by superimposing several images on top of each other." (www.artchive.com) Movement was important, machines were important, but it may be said that he futurists were failing at their attempt to fuse art with technology, because while this painting is a perfect representation of the movement, it is also a fairly poor painting. While many optical effects may be achieved through the use of perspective, chiaroscuro, tenebrism, color, etc. a panting is and always will be static.


Balla. Flight of Swifts. 1913
Form: Oil on canvas. Asymmetrical. shows the flight of a bird through the bottom half of the piece. The top half is the background and looks less busy and moving. 

Iconography:  "Balla's Flight of the Swifts (1913) and Swifts: Paths of Movement + Dynamic Sequences (1913) clearly illustrates the concept of speed-at-an-instant-of-time. Balla's freeze-frame style conveys the optical phenomena of movement as it might be captured on film when he presents one event (flight) in several instants of time within that event. Balla piles scores of frozen instants, one on another, to be synthesized in one glance or, to reverse the analogy, he gives many visual moments in one temporal moment. 
 In one corner the swift is captured in instants of its flight but the dynamic sensation is created by the empty space of the canvas. The lightened air will at any moment be penetrated by the moving body. This image of potential movement creates not only a sense of dynamism and space but time as well."
(Full text at http://www.aug.edu/dvskel/justiceFA92.htm)

Context:  " The question Zeno posed to his students in the fifth century B.C. involved the idea of speed-at-an-instant-of-time. The paradox goes as follows. Question: if an 'instant' may mean an infinitely small period of time, then in an instant how much distance would, say, a flying arrow cover? Answer: It would not cover any distance. If Zeno had had a camera he might have encouraged his students to imagine how it would be if they photographed the arrow in flight. As they made the exposure shorter and shorter, the image of the arrow would get less and less blurred and an entirely 'instantaneous' photograph would freeze the arrow's motion completely. So, they might have concluded, considered at an instant of time, the arrow could not be said to have a 'speed' at all. Further, if time is regarded as a succession of infinitesimal instants added together, Zeno's paradox implies that the moving arrow is at no instant of time genuinely 'moving' at all (Toulmin and Goodfield, 1961, p.104). Actually, Zeno would not have needed a camera to demonstrate his point had he been acquainted with the work of the futurist painter Giacomo Balla.
"The Futurist Technical Manifesto" (1910) illustrates in artistic terms Zeno's paradox. The goal of the futurist painter is to reproduce a gesture in motion to show not the force of the motion but the dynamic sensation that force produces. This sensation is perceived by the eye in much the same way as by a camera's lens. The Manifesto states, "On account of the persistence of an image upon the retina, moving objects constantly multiply themselves" (Kazloff, 1973, p. 147). To enforce the dynamic sensation the painter must not simply concentrate on reproducing multiple images of the moving subject but must also articulate the surrounding atmosphere. Aristotle aptly described this condition when he defined space as the potential for motion. Balla's Flight literally illustrates this concept."
(Full text at http://www.aug.edu/dvskel/justiceFA92.htm)
Again, motion and movement are important factors in this work. The difference between this piece and 'dog on a leash' is the type of motion portrayed. This time it is flight, rather than the linear movement of the dog on the ground, and Balla had to consider the two subjects very differently when formulating his approach to painting them.


Balla. Auto in Motion. 1913
Form: Oil on canvas. abstract, somewhat symmetrical. bright vivid colors matched with dark muddy ones. 

Iconography:  Much different than the dog or the birds, Balla is showing the auto in pure abstract form. The painting almost makes no sense whatsoever. The only way that the viewer knows it is an auto is by the title. It may be said that this is his comment on how superior and great the automobile is, so much so that it is impossible to truly catch in action.

Context: The futurists loved race cars. Loved them to the point of obsession. Movement, time , motion.


Umberto Boccioni. The City Rises. 1910
Form: Oil on canvas. filament like brushstrokes, impressionistic, bright vivid colors. the whole painting looks like its moving. the people, even though they're trying to hold down, or move a horse, seem to be flying and floating in a mystical atmosphere

Iconography:  "Against the Milanese urban background of smoking chimneys, scaffolding, a streetcar, and a locomotive, enormous draft horses tug at their harnesses, while street workers  attempt to direct the animals' explosive strength.  Basically, Boccioni still  works here within a modified Impressionist technique whose atomizing effect on mass permits the forceful, churning symbols of horse and manpower to slip out of their skins in an Impressionist blur of moving light."
 - Text from Robert Rosenblum, "Cubism and 20th century Art" 

Context: "If, by 1910, Futurism had already written and shouted its dogma in words, its pictures still lacked an appropriately modern language to articulate their new subjects. The City Rises by Umberto Boccioni is a case in point."- Text from Robert Rosenblum, "Cubism and 20th century Art" 
"The original title of this painting was Work and that is how it was shown at the Extension of free art in Milan in 1911. The artist' s aim was to paint "the fruit of our industrial was."  Not withstanding the realistic elements (the situated, the construction) and the perspective rendering of space, The City Rises is Boccioni' s first futuristic painting. The subject, the depiction of to moment at to situated, is transformed into to celebration of the idea of industrial progress and its relentless advance: the horse symbolizes it and is uselessly drawn by men holding the bridle. Previati' s influence is still obvious in the filament-like brushstrokes and the division of color, even if the pictorial strokes aim at enlivening the volumes in order to give them weight and consistency. The musician, Ferruccio Busoni purchased the painting during the itinerant exhibition of futuristic paintings that traveled through Europe in 1912."


Umberto Boccioni. 
Unique Forms of Continuity in Space. 1913
43x34x15" bronze NYMOMA
Form: Bronze abstract sculpture. looks like its moving, or could be moving 

Iconography:  His sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913;Mus. of Modern Art) embodies his concept of “lines of force” to replace the use of straight lines." The problem with this sculpture is that it does not do a very good job of translating light and motion into mass, because the sculpture looks too thick and heavy to convey the feeling of light or motion.

Context: "Italian futurist painter and sculptor. He played a primary role in the drafting of the manifesto of futurism in 1910 and was the major figure in the movement until 1914. In his famous, characteristic painting, The City Rises (1910; Mus. of Modern Art, New York City), he interpreted powerfully the technological turbulence of modern civilization. Influenced by Medardo Rosso, Boccioni turned to sculpture in 1912 and sought to translate light and motion into mass. (The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.  2001. www.bartleby.com)
"Boccioni insisted that sculpture should be released from its usual confining outer surfaces in order to open up and fuse the work with the space surrounding it --the interaction between figure and ground that began with the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists.  In Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, muscular forms seem to leap outward in flame-like bursts of energy.  During this period, the human experience of motion, time, and space was transformed by the development of the automobile, the airplane, and the movies." 


Umberto Boccioni. States of Mind: The Farewells. 1911
oil on canvas 27x37" NYMOMA
Form: Oil on canvas. cubist influence, abstract, dark muddy colors with vibrant reds, the only thing totally recognizable is the 6943 in the center.

Iconography:  "A twentieth century reinterpretation of Turner's Rain, Steam and Speed or Monet's Gare St.-Lazare series, it plunges the spectator into a raucous, near-hysterical turmoil of machines and people. Yet now, Cubist planes dominate Impressionist dots and yield a metallic harshness far more relevant to the machine world admired by the Futurists. If Monet and Turner interpret the railroad theme as a dazzling luminary spectacle, Boccioni, with his newly acquired Cubist vocabulary, sees it as a collisive confusion in which mass emotions are harshly contrasted with the impersonal automatism of the machine. In the center, the glistening metal engine, with bumpers and headlights, presides over the human scene in which embracing figures flow irregularly around the mechanical sentinel in pulsating waves of emotion reminiscent of the Symbolists use of line around 1890. By employing the Cubist interlocking of angular, fragmented planes, Boccioni creates, not the homogeneous glitter of Impressionism, but a dissonant joining and separation of forms almost audible in their clangorous reverberations. The silent, cerebral dissection of form in Analytic Cubism is converted here into the noisy, assaulting ambiance of acoustic, optical, and kinetic sensations of a modern railroad terminus. Even the engine number, 6943, has a dramatic quality that portends the emotional cleavage of imminent departure rather than suggesting the intellectual quality of metaphysical wit that such numbers have in the works of Picasso and Braque." 
- Text from Robert Rosenblum, "Cubism and 20th century Art" 

Context:"By the end of 1911,  Boccioni, like his fellow Futurists, had visited Paris in order to become acquainted with the avant-garde center of Europe and to prepare for the Futurist exhibition to be held in Paris in 1912. The impact of Cubism on the Futurists was immediate, as may be suggested by Boccioni's scene of railroad station farewells, the first in his 1911 series, States of Mind." - Text from Robert Rosenblum, "Cubism and 20th century Art" 

"Futurism is grounded in the complete renewal of human sensibility brought about by the great discoveries of science. Those people who today make use of the telegraph, the telephone, the phonograph, the train, the bicycle, the motorcycle, the automobile, the ocean liner, the dirigible, the airplane, the cinema, the great newspaper (synthesis of a day in the world's life) do not realize that these various means of communication, transportation, and information have a decisive influence on their psyches." http://www.aestheticnorms.com/aprize3e.html


Giacomo Balla
oil on canvas

Form: Oil on canvas. portrait laid over top or underneath another image. somewhat bright and pastel colors.

Iconography: Showing that machines cannot rule the world entirely, this is a portrait of Marinetti's wife, Benedetta Cappa. Far from looking Futurist, it shows a softer side of Balla. He  has made his wife otherworldly beautiful, and she is not marred by implied motion, rather it seems like a soft wind is moving around her. His palette is a far cry from the harsh blacks, reds, and yellows of his other works, indeed, this could almost pass for impressionism. A far cry from, 'the auto is king.' 

Context: "Benedetta Cappa, known to her friends as Beny, was born to a strictly Catholic and conservative  family in Rome on 14 August 1897. The family knew of Filippo Marinetti  as in 1911 Benedetta's cousin, the lawyer Innocenzo Cappa, defended Marinetti when he was arrested for pornography on the publication of his novel Mafarka. Her brother, Arturo, lived with the Czech Futurist painter Rougena Zatkova, and it was probably through them that Benedetta began moving in Futurist circles. In 1917 she became a student of Giacomo Balla in Rome, where she developed a large range of artistic skills. From this time onwards she became a distinctive proponent of Futurism in both literature and painting. It was in 1917, at Balla's studio, that she first met Marinetti - who was twenty one years her senior. Within two years they were living together and they married in 1923 - just four years after the publication of his manifesto 'Against Marriage'. Together they had three daughters; Vittoria (1927), Ala (1928) and Luce (1932). During her artistic career, from 1917 to 1944, Benedetta produced two bodies of Futurist work - in painting and literature. During the 1920's, together with her husband, she worked on developing the theory of Tactilism (first thought of by Marinetti during the war) and experimented with collage and mixed media to create tactile works. She regularly exhibited her paintings, notably at the 1926, 1930, 1934 and 1936 Venice Biennale exhibitions and the 1931, 1935 and 1939 Rome Quadrienniale exhibitions. During the 1930's she became a leader in the Futurist Aeropittura style of painting, co-signing the 1931 manifesto. In 1919 her Futurist poetry, based on Marinetti's parole in liberta (words in freedom), Spicologia di 1 uomo (Psychology of 1 man) was published in Dinamo. In 1924 she took part in the first Futurist Congress in Milan and the same year published her first experimental novel Le forze umane. Romanzo astratto con sintesi grafiche (Human forces. Abstract novel with graphic syntheses). In 1931 she published Viaggio di Gararà. Romanzo cosmico per teatro (Gararà's journey: Cosmic novel for the theater) followed in 1935 by Astra e il sottomarino. Vita trasognata (Astra and the submarine: Daydreaming life). After the death of her husband in 1944, Benedetta ceased her artistic activities. During the 'fifties and 'sixties she devoted her energies to the study and promotion of Futurism. Benedetta retired to Venice, where she died in 1977."


Technical Manifesto
of Futurist Painting 

Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà,
Luigi Russolo, Giacomo Balla,
Gino Severini 

On the 18th of March, 1910, in the limelight of the Chiarella Theater of Turin, we launched our first manifesto to a public of three thousand people—artists,
men of letters, students and others; it was a violent and cynical cry which displayed our sense of rebellion, our deep-rooted disgust, our haughty
contempt for vulgarity, for academic and pedantic mediocrity, for the fanatical worship of all that is old and worm-eaten. 

We bound ourselves there and then to the movement of Futurist Poetry which was initiated a year earlier by F. T. Marinetti in the columns of the Figaro. 

The battle of Turin has remained legendary. We exchanged almost as many knocks as we did ideas, in order to protect from certain death the genius of
Italian Art. 

And now during a temporary pause in this formidable struggle we come out of the crowd in order to expound with technical precision our program for the
renovation of painting, of which Futurist Salon at Milan was a dazzling manifestation. 

Our growing need of truth is no longer satisfied with Form and Color as they have been understood hitherto. 

The gesture which we would reproduce on canvas shall no longer be a fixed moment in universal dynamism. It shall simply be the dynamic sensation

Indeed, all things move, all things run, all things are rapidly changing. A profile is never motionless before our eyes, but it constantly appears and
disappears. On account of the persistency of an image upon the retina, moving objects constantly multiply themselves; their form changes like rapid
vibrations, in their mad career. Thus a running horse has not four legs, but twenty, and their movements are triangular. 

All is conventional in art. Nothing is absolute in painting. What was truth for the painters of yesterday is but a falsehood today. We declare, for instance,
that a portrait must not be like the sitter, and that the painter carries in himself the landscapes which he would fix upon his canvas. 

To paint a human figure you must not paint it; you must render the whole of its surrounding atmosphere. 

Space no longer exists: the street pavement, soaked by rain beneath the glare of electric lamps, becomes immensely deep and gapes to the very center
of the earth. Thousands of miles divide us from the sun; yet the house in front of us fits into the solar disk. 

Who can still believe in the opacity of bodies, since our sharpened and multiplied sensitiveness has already penetrated the obscure manifestations of the
medium? Why should we forget in our creations the doubled power of our sight, capable of giving results analogous to those of the X-rays? 

It will be sufficient to cite a few examples, chosen amongst thousands, to prove the truth of our arguments. 

The sixteen people around you in a rolling motor bus are in turn and at the same time one, ten, four, three; they are motionless and they change places;
they come and go, bound into the street, are suddenly swallowed up by the sunshine, then come back and sit before you, like persistent symbols of
universal vibration. 

How often have we not seen upon the cheek of the person with whom we are talking the horse which passes at the end of the street. 

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. 

The construction of pictures has hitherto been foolishly traditional. Painters have shown us the objects and the people placed before us. We shall
henceforward put the spectator in the center of the picture. 

As in every realm of the human mind, clear-sighted individual research has swept away the unchanging obscurities of dogma, so must the vivifying
current of science soon deliver painting from academism. 

We would at any price re-enter into life. Victorious science has nowadays disowned its past in order the better to serve the material needs of our time; we
would that art, disowning its past, were able to serve at last the intellectual needs which are within us. 

Our renovated consciousness does not permit us to look upon man as the center of universal life. The suffering of a man is of the same interest to us as
the suffering of an electric lamp, which, with spasmodic starts, shrieks out the most heartrending expressions of color. The harmony of the lines and
folds of modern dress works upon our sensitiveness with the same emotional and symbolical power as did the nude upon the sensitiveness of the old

In order to conceive and understand the novel beauties of a Futurist picture, the soul must be purified; the eye must be freed from its veil of atavism and
culture, so that it may at last look upon Nature and not upon the museum as the one and only standard. 

As soon as ever this result has been obtained, it will be readily admitted that brown tints have never coursed beneath our skin; it will be discovered that
yellow shines forth in our flesh, that red blazes, and that green, blue and violet dance upon it with untold charms, voluptuous and caressing. 

How is it possible still to see the human face pink, now that our life, redoubled by noctambulism, has multiplied our perceptions as colorists? The human
face is yellow, red, green, blue, violet. The pallor of a woman gazing in a jeweler’s window is more intensely iridescent than the prismatic fires of the
jewels that fascinate her like a lark. 

The time has passed for our sensations in painting to be whispered. We wish them in future to sing and re-echo upon our canvases in deafening and
triumphant flourishes. 

Your eyes, accustomed to semi-darkness, will soon open to more radiant visions of light. The shadows which we shall paint shall be more luminous than
the high-lights of our predecessors, and our pictures, next to those of the museums, will shine like blinding daylight compared with deepest night. 

We conclude that painting cannot exist today without Divisionism. This is no process that can be learned and applied at will. Divisionism, for the
modern painter, must be an innate complementariness which we declare to be essential and necessary. 

Our art will probably be accused of tormented and decadent cerebralism. But we shall merely answer that we are, on the contrary, the primitives of a
new sensitiveness, multiplied hundred fold, and that our art is intoxicated with spontaneity and power. 

We declare: 

   1. That all forms of imitation must be despised, all forms of originality glorified. 

   2.That it is essential to rebel against the tyranny of the terms “harmony” and “good taste” as being too elastic expressions, by the help of which it is
     easy to demolish the works of Rembrandt, of Goya and of Rodin. 

   3.That the art critics are useless or harmful. 

   4.That all subjects previously used must be swept aside in order to express our whirling life of steel, of pride, of fever and of speed. 

   5.That the name of “madman” with which it is attempted to gag all innovators should be looked upon as a title of honor. 

   6.That innate complementariness is an absolute necessity in painting, just as free meter in poetry or polyphony in music. 

   7.That universal dynamism must be rendered in painting as a dynamic sensation. 

   8.That in the manner of rendering Nature the first essential is sincerity and purity. 

   9.That movement and light destroy the materiality of bodies. 

We fight: 

   1.Against the bituminous tints by which it is attempted to obtain the patina of time upon modern pictures. 

   2.Against the superficial and elementary archaism founded upon flat tints, and which, by imitating the linear technique of the Egyptians, reduces
     painting to a powerless synthesis, both childish and grotesque. 

   3.Against the false claims to belong to the future put forward by the secessionists and the independents, who have installed new academies no less
     trite and attached to routine than the preceding ones. 

   4.Against the nude in painting, as nauseous and as tedious as adultery in literature. 

We wish to explain this last point. Nothing is immoral in our eyes; it is the monotony of the nude against which we fight. We are told that the subject is
nothing and that everything lies in the manner of treating it. That is agreed; we too, admit that. But this truism, unimpeachable and absolute fifty years
ago, is no longer so today with regard to the nude, since artists obsessed with the desire to expose the bodies of their mistresses have transformed the
Salons into arrays of unwholesome flesh! 

We demand, for ten years, the total suppression of the nude in painting.