Umberto Boccioni was a prominent
Umberto Boccioni was a prominent
Italian Sculptor and painter that helped shape the aesthetic futurism movement
being one of its principle figures. One of his major works of futurism is the Unique
Forms of Continuity in Space done in 1913 (Coen,
10). Giacomo Balla was another prominent figure in the futurism
movement with one of his work’s Abstract Speed + Sound (Velocità astratta +
rumore) leading the way. Balla was an art teacher, poet, and painter. The two
pieces of art are good case practices of the futurist movement that began in
February 1909 on the front page of a French newspaper Le Figaro (Canova,
101). It was a publication by F.T.
Marinetti who made a Futurist Manifesto announcing a new form of literature
that was destined to glorify danger, energy, emphasize speed, war, aggression
and to employ the modern places and spaces of industry and transportation. A
group of Milan artists later extended the philosophy to art. Umberto Boccioni is
one of the most famous futuristic artists and hence the need to analyze the
Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, which is also one of the most significant
pieces of his art. Moreover, Giacomo Balla took up the movements and made a
substantial contribution to the movement through the Abstract Speed + Sound
(Velocità strata + more) art. The art by Balla and that by Boccioni are both of
the futurism movement that makes them of interest and similar to one another in
that aspect. Moreover, the two arts have an indication of movement that is a
significant similarity carrying a variety of interpretations.
The Unique Forms of Continuity in Space
is composed of a human like a figure
that appears to be in motion. The sculpture has a fluid form. It has two blocks
at its feet that connect it to the ground and is armless without any real face.
The sight of a football player moving in entirely complete pass initially
inspired its composition and form (Khan Academy).
The face of the sculpture is also abstracted from a kind of a cross that point
to a helmet. In the absence of arms, it seems to have wing-like forms that
ripple back, but the protrusions are not necessarily part of the figure itself
since Boccioni had combined the sculpturing of the figure and the environment
that surrounded it. The air displaced as the figure moves indicated in the
forms that are not different from the body itself. There are some flame-like
shapes at the beginning of the calves that indicate the air swirling away from
the body. The sculpture also has a fluid and aerodynamic form in that it shows
an appearance of air movement. It also has a kind of support to the statue
through the two feet being attached to the base of the sculpture.
On the other hand, in the Giacomo
Balla's Painting on Abstract Speed- the
car has passed, it is composed of color schemes to make representations (Canova,
103). It has green, blue, pink, maroon, and
white. The colors are painted oily unvarnished mill board frame. The color
schemes of green and blue represent the earth and the sky respectively. The
pink is supposed to indicate the exhaust fumes from the passing vehicle. The
art also has a geometrical perspective evidenced by the road fading into the
distance. There are also lines placed in an abstract manner giving it shape,
definition and adding movement to the work. The painting is on an oily canvas
for an equal balance. The Canvas is oily to ensure that it gives it the shiny
effect ensuring that the colors are visible with clarity and precision.
The color of the Umberto Boccioni’s
Unique Forms of Continuity in Space was originally white since it was made of
plaster just like all the other sculptures at the time. The color later changed
to dark colors such as black as the sculpture was interpreted and sculptured in
Bronze. The white plastered art looked transient and delicate (Khan Academy). The white color that brought about the
theme of transition fitted for the futurist movement that inspired the art, and
that was behind the painting. The artist used white to indicate movement from
it because it is a delicate color that can easily be stained or spoilt.
Moreover, the Futurists wanted to have their works destroyed by other artists
that came up with better and more fluid pieces of art with time. They advocated
for change, continuity, and not permanence that came with the use of color
black or a dull color since it was not destroyed easily as they so wished to
Giacomo Balla's Painting on Abstract
Speed has used a variety of colors to depict motion in the art. He uses the
color blue to indicate the sky above and the green that represents vegetation
and the earth that surrounds the moving car, which is an indication of movement
and change as is characteristic of futuristic representations (Canova,
111). The use of color pink and other
colors are to indicate the fumes and other fumes in the air as the car moves
past. The colors that contrast have also been used to indicate lines that split
the colors to indicate movement. It is the lines in white, black, and even
maroons that that makes the eye of the viewer move about the sculpture. The
artist has therefore used the colors to bring contrast and submit comments on
what is happening in the sculpture.
The lines in Umberto Boccioni’s Unique
Forms of Continuity in Space art are used to emphasize further movement and
speed in the art (Coen,
10). The lines are used to show how the muscles and the body
ripple outward due to the deformation that result from the acceleration due to
fast movement. Moreover, it is the lines used to show the presence of air or
wind because of the movement that further indicates the marching forward. The
lines have also been used to indicate the absence of the arms to have some
wing-like forms that could be due to the external surroundings such as the wind
and air as the superhuman like figure moves. It is the lines that Boccioni uses
to achieve the "synthetic continuity” aimed at by the art and not the
"analytical discontinuity" that he had witnessed with the other
artists such as František Kupka and Marcel Duchamp.
Giacomo Balla's painting Abstract Speed
- The Car Has passed, used certain lines by placing them abstractly on the
sculpture. He uses the lines to make what would have otherwise been an oily
symmetrical painted canvas a kind of picture definition. The lines carefully
and evenly placed in the sculpture also offer a type of shape to the statue
making it easier to look at and guiding the eyes of the viewer to the painting.
The lines are also used to split the different colors as represented in the
sculpture making it easier to make contrast on the various angles of the
sculpture and adding to the movement of the work. Balla further uses the
abstract lines to indicate a form of movement and the road that the car takes
as it passes past in speed. Also, the use of lines closely together represents
the high speed of movement that is in the painting. Giacomo Balla indicates the
idea of motion in the art through the use of continuous lines that advance
across the surface of the painting. The lines represent sound and movement, and
it is the lines that are also crucial to making the eyes of the viewer dart to
multiple places of the painting to create a sense of movement and motion.
The representation of the flatness of
Giacomo Balla's painting is in the way that he has published it on a canvas.
The image of the painting offers to mean to the painting is done on canvas by
consciously drawing the attention to the shape of the picture on the canvas and
then the properties that are the forms of the art. The sculpture gives more
emphasis on the shape of the canvas on, which the art is depicted, with the use
of lines and colors. The eyes of the view are not drawn on a central part of
the painting but offer multiple perspectives as is assumed with the movement in
speed. It is the abstract use of colors and lines in a way that offers the
concentration in many areas of the painting that indicates the flatness of the
painting. The flatness of the painting is, therefore, an integral and critical
component of what we view and the experience of the view of the artwork. It is
the canvas on which the painting is done that offers the key flatness of the
On the other hand, the
perspective/flatness of the Umberto Boccioni’s painting is depicted in the way
that the form of the painting becomes the central center of attraction in the
painting. The artist concentrates on giving lines and patterns that enable one
to realize the distortion of the lines that also indicates movement and the
wind that result to its body and muscles. The artist also uses figurative forms
to pass the message of movement in the futurist times. It is the moving
superhuman that the artist uses to indicate motion through forming some
whirling effects in the lines symbolic of the fast movement indicated by the
futuristic movement. The artist uses flatness to symbolize things that exist in
the real world by using the human sculpture without arms and bring into
consideration the environment that surrounds them through the incorporation of the
wind and other effects on the human as they move forward.
Both Unique Forms of Continuity in
Space sculpture and Abstract Speed + Sound painting assumed the futuristic
technique. They were done during the futuristic movement. Futurism was a
20th-century art movement that later died during the First World War. The
Futurists loved engaging on issues that involved speed, machines, cities,
pollution, and noise (Gentile, 65). The futurist embraced the new and exciting
work that existed at the time instead of engaging in hypocritical enjoying of
the comforts of the modern world. They strongly denounced the forces that led
to the hypocrisy of enjoying the comfort of the modern day world. The Futurists
explored the entire medium of art that included paintings, sculptures, theater,
poetry, architecture, music and in some cases gastronomy (Gentile, 65). The
movement was started in Milan in 1909 by an Italian poet called Filippo Tommaso
Marinetti which launched the Futuristic Manifesto that he published in 1909 in
La Gazzetta dell'Emilia. Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, and Giacomo Balla were
affiliated with the philosophy as they engaged in painting. Te futurists were
highly interested in issues that indicated the triumph of humanity over nature (Khan Academy). They were mostly focused on engaging in
areas of technology, speed, violence, and the youth. They praised originality
and repudiated the cult or the construction on the past and all its
limitations. The futurists painters were, however, slow to develop a distinctive
style on the various subject matters. Umberto Boccioni wrote the Manifesto of
Futurist Painters in 1910 vowing that the futurist would fight the tradition of
museums with all their might. He referred to the existence of museums as an
indication of fanaticism, senselessness and that it was snobbish to art. They
advocated for having new sculptures coming up and hence did not concentrate on
the past but rather every artist needs to come up with new creations that are
better than the previous ones (Gentile, 65).
Materiality in the Unique Forms of
Continuity in Space has depicted in the choice of material that the artist
makes to indicate the fluidity and strength of a form bound to continue. The
sculpture is made of strong plaster cast together and later translated into a
solid bronze. The plaster can wear if with time as is the philosophy held by
the futurists since they did not believe in the permanence of the art to store
in a museum but believed that better art should dismantle it. Umberto Boccioni
also chooses the plaster since it can be shaped in the right form and shape.
The plaster is solid and strong which also indicated continuity. The plaster as the materials used are the
willful actors and the agents that entangle the audience in connections that
assists in investigating the role played by the materials. It is the material
that expands the notion of the time, space and the process involved in the art.
Giacomo Balla, on the Abstract Speed +
Sound (Velocità astratta + rumore), used an oily unvarnished mill board on
which the artist painted the frame. The canvas is then the one that is colored
or painted with a variety of colors to initiate the realization of the message
intended by the artist. It is the material that further examines the notion of time,
process, participation and the time as it looks at the way the materials
obstruct, interfere with the social norms, and obstruct the viewer as well as
the artist. It is the use of an oily canvas that makes it possible for the
different colors that the artist uses to show contracts and indicate the earth
and the sky to be visible (Petrie,196)
. The canvas, unlike other materials, is easy to draw on or even
color than other materials. The materials used for the canvas and the paints in
different colors have been the crucial tool for making the painting ton have a
meaning and has also been the crucial tool to provide the form of the painting.
In conclusion, the Abstract Speed and
Sound done by Giacomo Balla between 1913 and 1914 was one of the most interesting
paintings done during the Futuristic period. It was initially designed to be
part of a series of a series that depicted movement and sound. There are hints
of a landscape and sky within it indicated with the color selection as colors
are splashed all over the canvas to bring out the message (Petrie,198).
The idea of motion as is depicted in the painting as expected for every
futuristic piece of art was done through progressive lines that advanced across
the surface of the painting. The lines were meant to represent the sound, and
also, the colors scattered on different parts of the segments made by the lines
ensured that the viewer’s attention is all on the diagram bring out the
flatness if the painting. The painting depicts motion and sound in a very
abstract manner that makes it a classical example of the obsession that
futurist had to depict speed and progress. Umberto Boccioni with the Unique
Forms of Continuity in Space was also exemplary with the sculpture. It was a
well calculated and intelligent way of depicting motion even by the use of a
solid sculpture while at the same time following the manifesto of futurism not
to encourage permanence of art since it advocates for dynamism and changes.
Umberto Boccioni was an elite leader in the Futuristic movement. His ability to
shape up contours on the plaster as an indication of a movement curved by the
motion and forces of the wind and speed as the superhuman structure moves. It
further reviled traditional sculpture by resembling the realist works through a
reminiscent of some of the classical works such as Winged Victory of
Samothrace. Auguste Rodin in his Walking Man sculpture reiterates the lack of
arms of the sculpture.
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