How did Futurism come about?
The futurist manifesto, published on February 20, 1909 in the French newspaper “Le Figaro”, was the starting point for the emergence of several cultural avant-gardes that dominated Europe in the 20th century. In the Manifesto, the Italian poet Filippo Marinetti, extolled the beauty of machines, speed, light and rupture compared to Greek statues: “the splendor of the world was enriched with a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.”In the first Futurist manifesto of 1909, the slogan was Les mots en liberté ("Freedom for words") and took into account the typographic design of the time, especially in newspapers and in advertising. This was a moment of exploration of the ludic, the vernacular language and the breaking of the hierarchy in the traditional typography, with a predilection for the use of onomatopoeias.
What is futurism? What are your characteristics?
Futurists rejected the past, their works focusing heavily on speed, the technological developments of the late 19th century, and the exaltation of war and violence. For Balla, “an electric iron is more beautiful than a sculpture”. Thus, the objects are not exhausted in the apparent contour and in the aspects, but in the exaltation of technology and in the realization of the research of two-dimensional space. The futurist artist is not interested in painting an automobile, but capturing the plastic form, the speed described by it in space and expressing the real movement of the figures.
Futurism developed in all the arts and influenced several artists and modernist movements, with great repercussions on Dadaism, Concretism, modern typography, and postmodern graphic design.
In futurist painting, the use of vivid colors and contrasts and the overlapping of images was intended to give the idea of dynamism, deformation and non-materialization. They sought to express current movement by recording the speed described by figures moving in space. For futuristic artists, objects do not end in apparent contours and aspects, they continually interpenetrate at the same time. We can conclude that the main characteristics of futurism in painting was the devaluation of tradition and moralism, glorifying the development of industrial and technology, the use of vivid colors and contrasts, along with overlapping images, traces and small deformations to convey the idea. of movement and dynamism. In 1910 and 1911, Futurism used the techniques of Divisionism, breaking light and color into a field of points. Futurist painters adopted Cubist methods, offering a means of analyzing energy in paintings and expressing dynamism. One of the main artists of this movement was Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916), an Italian painter and sculptor, known for having published the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting. His works incorporated the concepts of dynamism and simultaneity: shapes and spaces that move at the same time and in opposite directions.Futurism would be just one of the many cultural vanguards that, in the first half of the 20th century, emerged in Europe. Among these we can identify, in addition to Futurism, Expressionism, Cubism, Dadaism or Surrealism.
In addition to painting, Umberto Boccioni was an innovator in sculpture, breaking with Rodin's tradition and giving a new dynamic form to the three-dimensional language. In 1912 and 1913, Boccioni produced sculptures to translate his futuristic ideas into three dimensions. In Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913), the relationship between the object and the environment is denoted, central to his theory of "dynamism", where the figure advances determinedly in the spectator's space. Around 1912, he published the manifesto Escultura futurista, in which he defended the dynamism and simultaneity of forms. His sculptures went beyond the question of absolute movement to a relative movement, establishing a tension and fusion of form and space, which interpenetrate each other. He also experimented with non-traditional materials for sculpture, juxtaposing and articulating glass, wood and leather, in works he called polimaterici (polymateric). In his sculptures, the dynamic movement of a human body in space is intensively studied by Boccioni.
Futurist architect Antonio Sant'Elia expressed his ideas of modernity in his designs for La Città Nuova (The New City) (1912–1914). This project influenced later generations of architects and artists as it projected the dynamism of futuristic life. In the idea of the futurists, the city, filled with the efficient and fast machine, replaced the landscape as the setting for the exciting modern life. Baroque curves and inlays have been removed to reveal the essential lines of the forms and emphasize the light of the space. Futurist architects had several conflicts with Fascist states who preferred classical Roman imperial aesthetic standards. Even so, several futuristic buildings were built between the 1920s and 1940s, including public buildings such as railway stations, seaside resorts and post offices: Trento railway station, built by Angiolo Mazzoni and Santa Maria Novella station in Florence.
Futurism in Portugal
As early as 1909, Marinetti's Manifesto was translated from Le Figaro in the Diário dos Açores, but went unnoticed. In March 1912 Aquilino Ribeiro, in a Parisian chronicle, announces in the magazine Illustrator Portuguesa (March 11, 1912, pp.345,6,7) the futurist movement to the Portuguese. But it was in number two of Revista Orpheu, directed by Fernando Pessoa/Álvaro de Campos and Mário de Sá-Carneiro that futurism appeared as a movement in Portugal.It was the Portuguese intellectuals who were in Paris, Mário de Sá-Carneiro and the painter Guilherme Santa-Rita, who took this movement forward. In April 1917, a “futurist” show was held, developed by Almada Negreiros and Santa-Rita, which read “Ultimatum Futurista à Gerações Portuguesas do Século XX” – in which it was declared: “I do not belong to any of the revolutionary generations. I belong to a constructive generation. (…) It is necessary to create the Portuguese homeland of the 20th century. The complete people will be the one that has brought together to the fullest all its qualities and all its defects. Portuguese courage, you only lack the qualities”, adding that, in order to achieve this objective, it would be necessary to fight against romanticism, nostalgia, Sebastianist sentimentality, amateurism and defeatism.In the poetry that would emerge poetic compositions of a futuristic nature, in particular, the “Ode Triunfal” and the “Ode Marítima”, by Fernando Pessoa; “Manucure”, by Mário de Sá-Carneiro and the “Anti-Dantas Manifesto”, by Almada Negreiros. Briefly, Portuguese futurism passed almost discreetly between the two magazines, Orpheu from 1915 and Portugal Futurista from 1917 (seized by the authorities), with occasional emergencies in the Algarve, in the unexpected futuristic supplement of O Heraldo de Faro, in 1916, and already in the 20s in Coimbra.