2012/08/01

Futurism revisited


I'm doing a month long painting workshop right now, going through all the movements of the 20th century. And just as the whole world watched the inauguration of the Olympic games, celebrating industrialisation, invention and machinery, we charged into the movement of futurism.
"The City Rises" - Umberto Boccione
“Dynamism of a Cyclist” - Umberto Boccioni

Giacomo Balla - "Girl running on a Balcony"
And here's the study for the above "Girl running on a balcony":
 Futurism, which was a movement that incorporated all walks of art - definitelly not just painting - oviously took ideas from previous movements and even though most of us automatically think of Fritz Lange's film "Metropolis", as you can see above, there wasn't just one completely dominant style. What they do have in common, is the sense of motion, of speed and progress - the idea that even when capturing one single moment, there is always movement and that the classical style of a scene frozen in mid air, no matter how powerful the image, just wasn't enough.

While one can admire the sense of optimism and the passion for the beauty of the machine, their want to break with the static of the art and even of the society that had gone before - all that is in itself empowering and uplifting - there is also a darker side to the movement. In the Futurist Manifesto, there are - among other ideas - these two:
  1. We will glorify war—the world’s only hygiene—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.
  2. We will destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind, will fight moralism, feminism, every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice. 
Not too hard to see why some of these artist were later to embrace fascism.

Back to the workshop;
reading the words, studying the images, and you think you understand. But then you have to get it down on canvas, and suddenly it's not as "easy" as it looked!
Going back to the olympics, I tried to paint the movements of a diver falling into the pool. It has none of the speed or free movement of the originals (and I won't finish it because tomorrow we start with "expressionism"), but it was fun. Very relaxing.


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