During the years immediately leading up to the First World War, a group of artists in Italy began to extol the “cleansing” aspect of war and entered into a campaign or crusade to sweep the art world free of its age-old traditions, conventions and rituals. It was anticipated by these Italian artists that this effort to “clean house” would be met with fierce resistance. As such, these avant-garde artists were willing to meet resistance with force. One of the leading Italian Futurist painters, who also happened to be a gifted writer, was Umberto Boccioni. In his Manifesto of the Futurist Painters, published in 1910, Boccioni exclaimed: “A clean sweep should be made of all stale and threadbare subject matter in order to express the vortex of modern life—a life of steel, fever, pride and headlong speed…The accusation ‘madmen’, which has been employed to gag innovators, should be considered a noble and honourable title…Sincerity and virginity, more than any other qualities, are necessary to the interpretation of nature…Motion and light destroy the materiality of bodies.” What are your thoughts on the Italian Futurists in general and Boccioni’s manifesto thoughts in particular?
Umberto Boccioni, Self Portrait, 1905
Umberto Boccioni, Charge of the Lancers, 1915