Dynamism of an Automobile-Luigi Russolo, 1912

Dynamism of an Automobile-Luigi Russolo, 1912

In painting, the Futurist movement has often been erroneously considered an offshoot of Cubism. Actually, both its roots and its goals were very different, being more closely allied with those of the new movement in German painting which eventually was called Expressionism.

A part of the confusion arose from the insistence of the Paris painters in reading the Technical Manifesto with the analytical procedures of Cubism in mind. The Italians, as insistent on maintaining their independence as the school of Paris was in maintaining its artistic dominance, repeatedly pointed out the differences in angry articles appearing in the journal Lacerba, published in Florence.

The confusion has persisted, however, because several of the Futurist painters, Boccioni, Carra, Soffici, and Severini (who, living in Paris, was familiar with Cubism from the first), appropriated aspects of the formal language of Cubism, using them to serve their own ends.

Boccioni and Carra made contact with Cubist painting in 1911, first through publications, then on an autumn trip to Paris under the guidance of Severini. But the resemblance is superficial and, as Carra pointed out, both the purpose and the effect of their painting were different.

Interventionist Demonstration - Carlo Carra, 1914

Interventionist Demonstration - Carlo Carra, 1914

Carmelo Bene - Futurist Manifesto

We want to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and fearlessness.

The courage, audacity, and revolt will be essential elements of our poetry.

We want to exalt the aggressive movement, feverish insomnia, the running pace, the mortal leap, the punch and the slap.

We affirm that the world's magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car whose hood is adorned with great tubes like serpents with explosive breath ... a roaring car that seems to ride on grapeshot is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.

We want to celebrate the man who holds the steering wheel, whose ideal pole across the Earth, launched a race, it also, on the circuit of its orbit.

The poet must be extravagant with ardor, splendor, and generosity, to increase the fervor of the primordial elements.

There is no beauty in the struggle. No work without an aggressive character can be a masterpiece.

Poetry must be conceived as a violent attack on unknown forces, to reduce and prostrate them before man.

We are on the extreme promontory of the centuries! ... Why should we look back, if we break down the mysterious doors of the impossible? Time and Space died yesterday. We already live in, since we have already created eternal, omnipresent speed.

Manifesto del Futurismo Carmelo Bene

Manifesto del Futurismo Carmelo Bene- in translation

"We will glorify war - the world's only hygiene - militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of liberating, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.

We want to destroy museums, libraries, academies of every kind, and fight against moralism, feminism, and against all opportunist and utilitarian cowardice.

We will sing of great crowds excited by work, pleasure, and by riot gear-colored and polyphonic singing of the revolutions in modern capitals; sing of the vibrant nightly fervor of arsenals and shipyards, burned with violent electric moons; the gluttonous railway stations devouring of snakes who smoke, the factories hung on clouds to the twisted threads of their smoke; bridges like giant gymnasts that sniff the horizon, and ample locomotives, prancing on the rails like enormous steel horses bridled by tubes, and the gliding flight of airplanes whose propellers flutters in the wind like a flag and it seems like an enthusiastic crowd cheering.

It is from Italy that we launch our manifesto for the world of overwhelming violence and arson today in which we base the future because we want to free this land from its smelly gangrene of professors, archaeologists, and antiquarians of Cicero. Already for a long time Italy has been a market for junk dealers. We mean to free from the many museums that cover her burial."

Futurist Literature

Futurist literature primarily focuses on seven aspects: intuition, analogy, irony, abolition of syntax, metrical reform, onomatopoeia, and essential/synthetic lyricism.

Intuition – when the "creative spirit seems suddenly to shake off its shackles and become prey to an incomprehensible spontaneity of conception and execution".

Analogy – by creating a communion of two (or more) seemingly unrelated objects, the poet pierces to the "essence of reality". The farther the poet has to reach in terms of logical remoteness is in direct proportion to its efficacy.

Irony –"so old and forgotten that it looked almost new when the dust was brushed away from it. “

Abolition of syntax—the constraints of syntax were inappropriate to modern life and that it did not truly represent the mind of the poet.

Metrical reform—In order to break free of the shackles of meter, they resorted to what they called word autonomy”. Essentially, all ideas of meter were rejected and the word became the main unit of concern instead of the meter. In this way, the Futurists managed to create a new language free of syntax punctuation, and metrics that allowed for free expression.

Onomatopoeia –There were four forms of onomatopoeia that the Futurists advocated: direct, indirect, integral, and abstract. The first of these four is the usually onomatopoeia seen in typical poetry, e.g. boom, splash, tweet. They convey the most realistic translation of sound into language. Indirect onomatopoeia "expressed the subjective responses to external conditions". Integral onomatopoeia was "the introduction of any and every sound irrespective of its similarity to significant words". This meant that any collection of letters could represent a sound. The final form of onomatopoeia did not reference external sounds or movements like the aforementioned versions of onomatopoeia. Rather, they tried to capture the internal motions of the soul.

Essential/synthetic lyricism—In order to better provide stark, contrasting analogies, the Futurist literature promoted a kind of hyper-conciseness. It was dubbed essential and synthetic lyricism. The former refers to a paring down of any and all superfluous objects, while the latter expresses an unnatural compactness of the language unseen elsewhere. This idea explains where poetry became the preferred literary medium of Futurism and why there are no Futurist novels (since novels are neither pared down nor compressed).

The Sound of Futurism at the Italian Cultural Institute in New York

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