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Key Futurist Artists

An important bridging point between the early Modern Art movements of cubism, fauvism, expressionism, and later movements such as constructivism, surrealism, and dada, the Futurist movement was an Italian-led movement, and focused hard of visualising future. It sought out content of the future such as technology, aeroplanes, and city scapes, as well as a style of the future, dynamically linking the images on the canvas, and capturing an illusion of movement in a still image. Futurism would become tied to Fascist politics, be disrupted by the First World War, and ultimately be rejected for it’s Fascist connections as the Second World War loomed and anti-Fascists rejected the movement. It’s creative and artistic ideals stayed around though, and can still be seen today in science fiction media.

Giacomo Balla

One of the most important artists in the Futurist movement, Balla was not typical of it, showing little interest in subjects like machines or violence, and his work often had a humorous element to it. Exhibiting work from his 20s he spent several years working as an illustrator and caricaturist, which may well have informed his later lighthearted subject matter. He was often interested in capturing light, speed, and most importantly movement, often adopting an approach that looked like multiple exposure photography to suggest movement or arms or legs. A diverse artist he was also interested in Divisionism, created both abstract and figurative works, sculpted, designed furniture, and often provided a location at his studio for artists to meet up and socialise.

Umberto Boccioni

A painter and sculptor who developed much of the Futurist aesthetic, with a fascination for deconstructing solid forms and finding a dynamism within them. He studied Divisionism under Balla which he found inspiring, and also studied Impressionism, but was most affected by the ideas forming within Futurism and signed the Manifesto of Futurist Painters alongside Balla, Carra and others. Exploring dynamism, abstraction, and Futurist sculpture after taking in a range of Cubist sculptures, he became a key theorist of the movement, but had his life tragically cut short by a military training accident during the First World War.

Gino Severini

Another painter who studied Divisionism under Balla, Severini developed much of his style in the Paris avant-garde movement, but was invited into the Futurist group as it came together, and provided an important link to the French art scene and ideas like Cubism. He tended to cover subjects such as dancers and bustling urban scenes rather than machines, and his interest in Cubism would eventually drive him towards Crystal Cubism, then a more traditional classical style, and then abstracts before returning to subjects focused on light, movement, and dancers from his Futurist period almost 35 years previously.

Fortunato Depero

Diving in to selling his work from an early age, while serving as an apprentice marble worker, Depero discovered Futurism in magazines and was inspired to move to Rome, meeting Balla and authoring one of the many Futurist manifestos with him. He developed a range of projects, designing stage sets, establishing the House of Futurist Art to produce toys, tapestries, and furniture, exhibiting work as a representative of the movement, and releasing portfolios in book form. As Futurism’s popularity began to wane in the lead up to World War 2 both Depero and Balla kept working to advance the artistic evolution of the movement. Eventually, Depero retired and focused his time on painting and opening a museum.

Carlo Carrà

A leading figure of the Futurist art movement, Carr√†’s career began at the age of 12 when he began working as a mural worker, and became acquainted with French contemporary art when he was painting a pavilion for an art gallery exhibition. He studied at Brera Academy and became a signatory of the Futurist Painters manifesto, introducing ideas for representing sounds, noises, and smells, via synaesthesia; visualising such things in visual terms such as colour. After World War 1 his style moved in other directions, along with the extremities of his political views, but he continued to paint, teach art, and wrote many books on art.

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